Debate about spending development resources on culture
'Development organisations should primarily focus on basic needs,
not on culture.' This was one of the assertions discussed during
the debate on Culture and Development that was held on 27 November
2003 in Utrecht. The debate was organised by the Students Research
Network Latin America.
'I completely agree' was the clear response to this assertion from
development journalist Roeland Muskens. Culture and expressions
of culture should not be supported by the Netherlands. He believes
that culture is important, but that the support of expressions of
culture is not an effective use for the scarce development funds
made available from the Netherlands. Moreover, the initiatives supported
by the Hivos Culture Fund and the Hubert Bals Fund do not focus
on the poor. After all, the poor do not attend film festivals.
Bianca Taal from the Hubert Bals Fund pointed out that her organisation
strives to make films accessible to poor people in the country by
funding a mobile film theatre. She therefore does not agree with
the assertion. Development funds, in her view, are not solely intended
for combating poverty. 'Culture is an important aspect of development,'
according to Taal.'What it is about is the development of the cultural
Paul van Paaschen from the Hivos Culture Fund also refuted the
assertion. Although he agrees that film and theatre do not reduce
poverty, he believes that developments in the areas of economy,
democratisation and culture are inseparably related. One-sided
focus on only economic development has not yielded much to date.
According to Van Paaschen, development should be viewed as a broader
whole, and from that perspective it is in fact useful to support
cultural initiatives with development funding from the Netherlands.