Esa-Pekka leads world protest to save Dutch culture – new video

Esa-Pekka leads world protest to save Dutch culture – new video


norman lebrecht

June 23, 2011

Esa-Pekka Salonen is the first conductor to sign onto a scheme to shame the Dutch goverment into softening its culture cuts. Salonen and the Philharmonia orchestra yesterday recorded a segment of a Dutch resistance anthem that will be blared out in The Hague while Parliament is debating the cuts. You can see the recording here on Youtube, with Salonen’s appeal to the Dutch.

Another section has been recorded by the WD orchestra in Cologne. So who’s going to be next next?

Here’s the plan, described by Gijs Kramers, artistic director of the Ricciotti ensemble, Amsterdam.

The Dutch deputy minister of culture, Halbe Zijlstra, has announced devastating cuts for the arts in the Netherlands. Overall, the cuts are as much as 30% of the budget, about 200 million euros, leaving 700 to go round in 2013. Among the many victims will be 4 of the current 12 professional orchestras as well as the majority of the institutions that currently generate and develop talent. If this goes ahead, a major part of our cultural heritage will get demolished and will have no chance to ever be rebuilt. As the cuts are announced to take place as early as 2013, none of the institutions will have time to anticipate on this.
At the moment there is a lot of opposition in Holland, there are plenty of protests and petitions but it would be good if there could also be some support from abroad.
I therefore propose an action called “Soldier of Orange for the orchestras of the Netherlands”.
As many orchestras as possible will play and record on film a one minute passage from the film score of Soldier of Orange, a 1977 film about the Dutch resistance in the Second World War. The tune is very famous in the Netherlands and can be said to stand for our national identity.
The recording could be made during a rehearsal, conducted by whoever is leading the orchestra in that period and could be accompanied by any short commentary. As the fragment is only one minute long and very easy to play this should only take a maximum of 5 minutes. The clip will then be spread widely via our network of institutions currently dealing with the protests against the cuts. It would be ideal if the recording could be made as soon as possible, as the debate about this matter will take place in the Hague on Monday June 27th, 2011.
The music (scores and parts) is obtainable in pdf format and can be sent out straight away. I very much hope there will be a massive response, so we can show the Dutch government that everywhere people involved in the cultural sector show their disapproval of what is going on in Holland, which is a development that hopefully will never occur anywhere else in the world.


  • All my support yo the Dutch Culture

  • Alban Wesly says:

    I think I speak for many if I thank you for sharing this protest online. FYI: What makes things even harder to accept, is the notion that the devastating government cuts constitute a meagre 1,11% of the total savings the Prime Minister needs (wants) to make. Let’s not forget that this government is ‘kept hostage’ by MP G.W. who gives the government its majority, and who wants to cut the spending on the arts for _completely_.  Let’s see what happens, I will be proud of my country if it makes this government collapse because of its primitve culture/art policy. Thank you for paying attention to this matter.

  • Dear Mr Salonen,
    Thank you so much on behalf of the few Dutch people who see what is really happening here in Holland. Mr Mark Rutte our Prime-Minister is the kind of guy who comes floating above in the water by lack of weight! Besides he is on the leech of Mr Populist Wilders whose only interest is feeding fear into people`s mind. “Angst macht klein” I think Hermann Hesse said. The neo-liberals pretend to be the clever guys but have no sight of the future no intelligent approach to culture versus economics. The Christian Democrats (CDA) do not even know how to spell the word Culture and the socialist have no real leader to make up for the damage already done. So frankly we are pretty sad about our future! Non the less. Thanks for your support!
    Stephan Brekelmans-Interartists Amsterdam

  • Perhaps it is good to know that both the Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science and her second minister have practically no experience in education, culture and science. Which is quite strange, as no country would like to have a Minister of Foreign Affairs who has not travelled abroad ever.
    As Stephan Brekelmans wrote above: I am afraid we are politically led by people who do not have the qualities needed.

    Many thanks for the support!

  • All the blesses for The Netherland’s Orchestras!!!!! Let’s support them all!!!

  • What a shame for Dutch culture!! But could you imagine in a small countries, pushed by powerful MMF into monetary crise?? As Serbia?? Every year is 30-50% less for culture!! With this Kind of goals of politicians civilization will be destroyed, like many times in the history we are just looking going down…..

  • therwyn bish says:

    & I most ardently hope that this effort will be duplicated in relationship to china and its anti-humanity crusade in silence Ai Weiwei and all the other artists who speak out for human rights and human dignity.

  • J.h. V.d. Linden says:

    I just watched a film made in 1997 – “The Comedian Harmonists.”

    The Arts/Culture sector is not the only problem in the Netherlands, but surely a significant one. I am sure the artists see the larger picture and hope that this international support goes not only for culture but for humanity.

    Remembering the words of Erasmus of Rotterdam,” He who allows oppression shares the crime.”

  • A.Geel says:

    Now who does this person think he is??? It is easy to protest cuts in other countries when you are not the one to pay taxes in that particular country.

    Fact is, that the Dutch government pays, per capita, more money on culture than any other country in the European Union, even after the much needed cuts (over EUR 260 per person, per year). And over 60% of the Dutch taxpayers (the people who are actually stake-holder in this debate) support the cuts.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I am a great fan of the arts, I visit museums both in The Netherlands and abroad when travelling, I visit the Dutch Royal Concertbuilding Orchestra at least 6 times a year, I go to the theater in The Hague, where I live, at least once a month, I am a major fan of opera, but even I don’t understand why the arts have to be so heavily subsidized.

    Yes, my entrance tickets may become a little bit more expensive, but when compared with tickets for the theater in countries like Germany, the UK and the US, these prices are just ridiculously low. And I prefer it that the Dutch government pays some extra money to the health sector (+ 12 billion this year) to the benefit of ALL Dutch citizens, than the Dutch government heavily subsidizing the art world of which only the upper class will benefit (believe me, the lower and lower middle class will NEVER visit a theater, only the commercially produced musicals by Joop van den Ende).

    Anyway, this man should mind his own business, or move to The Netherlands and pay his 52% taxes over the highest income-bracket (that is, everything above EUR 55,000 a year).

  • Making cuts to the arts is like selling the rain forest off and the wondering why people can’t breath. To repeat something: If you consider that you can’t measure what music really does, in how much it reminds us what being human is and nurtures… our soul (not that this is only music: art does this, the reflection on life called fiction does this, dance does this etc.); and considering that this isn’t something that can be measured in an objective sense you start to realize how there’s no limit there. There’s no loss in giving from this source. This energy, this source, this resource is where the word forgive comes from (for-give, there is no limit, no loss); and that’s where compassion, where empathy come from; and also the perspective of understanding that comes from non-attachment. This is the only way you actually create a society, I think.