So I’ve been out of the loop. The Dutch government is increasing the BTW on cultural activities from 6% to 19% (the maximum), and there are plans to cut cultural funding by 200 million euros; 20% of the budget. Austerity measures? Maybe. But it wasn’t long ago that we were being told that the economy was improving and that the Netherlands had escaped the worst of the economic downturn that damaged so many other countries. 200 millions euros represents a massive cut to cultural and entertainment budgets across the board, and will threaten and close lots of events and institutions enjoyed by people from all walks of life. Just the change in tax will increase the cost of seeing a movie or visiting the museum.
Maastricht is seeing its share of cultural funding problems as well. The AINSI building (where Pecha Kucha and many other cultural events are held) is running out of funding from the city and there are no plans to extend the assistance they need to keep this place open. That means not only lost jobs, but lost venues for cultural events that benefit from the casual environment the AINSI brings.
On the 20th of November, all around the country, people got together to Scream for Culture in protest to these changes. Even here in Maastricht there was a crowd. Unfortunately we missed it, but we did get the chance to “protest” in a quieter way simply by attending this month’s Pecha Kucha event on the 20th and then going to a book talk on the 21st.
This 8th Maastricht Pecha Kucha wasn’t the best I’ve attended, but there were still several excellent presentations and even an improvised presentation in which the speaker had no prepared subject and was given 20 slides he’d never seen before. Very funny. Of note was a presentation about Estonia & Wifi by our friend Cyrus Farivar. I encourage you to check out both the video (when it is available) and his soon to be published book: The Internet of Elsewhere.
Another book we checked out is The Adventures of Yin & Yang: Snoepje & the Pizza Box by Susan Schaefer, another expat in the Maastricht area. On Sunday we went to a nice reading at the Dominican Selexyz bookstore where Susan and the Minister of Immigration gave a bilingual reading of the book. It’s a cute story about adding a new member (a kitten) to the family. I can’t promise, but I believe the book is available through bookstores.
Watch the 8th Maastricht Pecha Kucha Videos.