This thesis is an exploration of how justifications of government involvement in the arts have evolved in Dutch cultural policy since the introduction of the Cultuurnota in 1993 through the use of the Economies of Worth framework as conceptualized by Boltanski and Thévenot. My analysis has focused, in particular, on the different narratives that exist on the value of art within these policy texts - to reveal their revision as they become absorbed by a dominant neoliberal discourse. Through a rebranding of the objects that make up the “cultural sector”, art becomes reframed as a means of production rather than an instrument of perception. By shifting the discursive focus from the collective (civic) to the individual, the responsibility is repositioned to lie with the artist and the audience. The principle of autonomous art becomes a weapon in a discursive siege for further privatization and industrialization; The concept and understanding of artistic quality, it is implied, has to be broadened, so as to tap into a larger portion of society; To prevent the arts and culture from becoming a self-serving, self-referential bubble with no real ties to the people that fund it. Through this line of reasoning, the reliance on expertise is problematised, which in turn is used as an argument to allow more market forces into the cultural sector, as this would better reflect the wishes (demand) of the general population. Good art, it is implied, finds its own audience; it is entrepreneurial. I argue that the last thirty years of cultural policy in the Netherlands have seen a naturalization of this discourse, presenting it as both inevitable and appropriate

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Hans Abbing
Cultural Economics and Entrepreneurship , Master Arts, Culture & Society
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

David van der Velden. (2021, June 30). The Artistic Toolshed: A study on the justifications of government involvement in the arts and their evolution in Dutch Cultural policy since the nineties.. Master Arts, Culture & Society. Retrieved from