For a long time culture was considered an obstacle to development. Art was a luxury, reserved for the elite. And artists were irrelevant when it came to achieving ambitious development objectives. The priorities were limited to water pumps, dams, food, factories and houses.

However, the realisation that culture not only plays a role in development, but is even the foundation for it, is slowly beginning to dawn on people. These days, statements such as ‘Culture is about people and their intellectual, emotional and spiritual existence. Support for culture enables people to define their future and to progress’ appear in policy documents.

During the last decade different funds have been set up in the Netherlands for culture outside the western world. The funds are not only the financiers; They operate based on an autonomous policy and put their stamp on their projects.

In this special edition, six funds explain the tasks they envision for themselves in culture and development: the Prince Claus Fund, the European Cultural Foundation, the KIT Tropenmuseum, the Hivos Culture Fund, Doen Foundation, and the Hivos-NCDO Culture Fund. They use examples of cultural projects all over the whole world to elucidate these points. The Dutch embassy can also play a role in these projects; the cultural attaché in Jakarta speaks about this aspect.