The Dutch universities of the arts have read with great interest the advice of the Council for Culture (Raad voor Cultuur) regarding social safety within the cultural sector and arts education. The universities recognise the problems outlined by the Council for Culture and acknowledge the role they play in making social safety an integral part of the development of the artists (and culture professionals) of the future. The arts education sector is pleased that the efforts made by the universities of the arts, both individually and collectively, to guarantee and increase social safety have been noted by the Council for Culture. At the same time, we are already busy implementing changes in line with the Council’s findings. We feel it is important to emphasise that this is never finished and that we are consciously and continuously working on it.
The universities of the arts have done a great deal of work to strengthen the structures that are intended to counteract transgressive behaviour. One of the results was the presentation in May 2021 of the ‘Contours of the Social Safety Code’ by the universities of the arts to the then Minister Van Engelshoven. We actively draw the attention of our staff and students to codes of conduct, make confidential counsellors and complaints committees more visible, refine regulations and make them easier to find. The dialogue shows openness and alertness to social safety. The universities of the arts are paying constant attention to this.
Of course, the didactic approach of demolishing and rebuilding the art student, as was done in the past by some universities of the arts, is now unacceptable to all; it no longer has a place in modern art education. With training in didactics and social safety, we impress on our lecturers, even those with small appointments, that transgressive behaviour, (sexual) intimidation, aggression and violence, bullying and discrimination are unacceptable. The educational climate has changed: we are educating a new generation with a firm focus on paying attention to awareness and encouraging to set one’s own boundaries. These future artists and cultural professionals are the critical culture changers of tomorrow.
We see the Council for Culture’s advice as an encouragement to continue along the chosen path and to continue to strengthen the future generation of artists in this area. Central to this is the enhancement of didactic skills and the promotion of a culture in which everyone dares to speak out and to address one another. Only in this way can we create a safe and inclusive environment where all talents can flourish. We take to heart the recommendations made by the Council for Culture. The universities of the arts will and want to contribute, collectively and individually, to a safe and inclusive cultural sector.
The Dutch Universities of the Arts