In June, following the announcement by State Secretary for Culture Halbe Zijlstra on behalf of the government (5% less for De Nederlandse Opera [DNO] and the Dutch National Ballet [HNB]), the Amsterdam Arts Council (AKr) also announced their recommendation. The cuts made by the government plus the AKr’s recommendation threaten to lead to cutbacks of € 3.2 million on the combined sum given in 2011 to the organisations, which will be merging on 1 January 2013.
Ted Brandsen, director of the Dutch National Ballet, says, “All in all, these cuts of 5% by the government and 10% by the City of Amsterdam present the Dutch National Ballet with a tough challenge. The Amsterdam Arts Council (AKr) recognises our excellent quality, but it will now be difficult to maintain our international high standard. Add to this the uncertainty about the orchestral accompaniment for ballet productions, which is undergoing drastic cutbacks and is therefore unclear as to its position from 1 January 2013, and there will be enormous pressure on the merged organisation as of 1 January 2013”.
The AKr’s 15% cut facing The Amsterdam Music Theatre will eventually backfire on HNB and DNO as well. Truze Lodder, chairman of the board of The Amsterdam Music Theatre and managing director of De Nederlandse Opera, says, “The Amsterdam Music Theatre is the home of opera and ballet and is an inextricable part of the infrastructure that enables De Nederlandse Opera and the Dutch National Ballet to create productions at an internationally high standard. The merged organisation should therefore be recognised as a producing organisation, and accordingly a cutback of 10% on the total budget given to us by the City of Amsterdam would be justifiable”.
In their recommendation, the AKr is following the plans of the municipality in sparing ‘young’ art, and thus taking a totally different direction to the cabinet, which is sparing the top organisations. The recommendations will be discussed in the autumn by the Lower House and the Amsterdam City Council respectively. The Dutch National Ballet depends on the City of Amsterdam for around half its subsidy and The Amsterdam Music Theatre for the whole 100%. De Nederlandse Opera is out of range in the AKr’s recommendation, as it is subsidised completely by the government.