Letter to the Future: an accessible cultural policy for all
Letter to the Future
Rajae was invited by OCW in 2021 to write and present a letter to the future to Minister van Engelshoven, deputies, aldermen, fund directors, director general of culture/media and director and deputy director of heritage and media.
Read the letter below:
Esteemed Minister van Engelshoven, deputies and aldermen, fund directors, Director- General of Culture Media, Director & Deputy Director of Heritage & Arts.
Here we are, behind our screens, perhaps a little uncomfortable. How are you making out? Do you also have chronic skin hunger by now? After more than a year of lauding? You are also experiencing this pandemic.
Where do you get the energy and strength to support yourself and colleagues, but most certainly all the institutions that come knocking at your door from all over the kingdom -including the Caribbean part of the Kingdom- that depend on public funds?
I realize while writing my letter to the future that some major changes will take a long time, such as loosening entrenched systems and closing the income, culture and gender gaps.
My letter to the future is one in which I hope that the ever-widening income and culture gap will cease to exist. And in particular a future in which female talent is no longer underrepresented in the arts and media. We have much to gain in that, even in the Netherlands. After this pandemic, this gap will probably have widened even more, while we also need female narratives to portray and shape the future more equally. Not only in caring and supporting roles, but also where new perspectives are conceived, created and produced.
Many of my peers are currently retraining because of reality. Colleagues who have seen their livelihoods disappear are waiting for the day when they can go from worrying children, back to being (worry-free) makers with a future. Artists who offer comfort and relief to the world, to those around us. Portraying, sharing, expressing what we all carry within us. Hopefully that will soon be possible again.
Many cities and regions imagined themselves cosmopolitan and saw tourism dry up in the past year, but also saw local flourishing, neighborhoods committed to their neighbors, all over the Netherlands... Regional policy is precisely what offers comfort, connection, optimism, without artificial interventions. My hope is that in the future cities flourish again, but our ecological footprint becomes smaller. And that in addition the local will be equally cherished. By this I mean crafts, heritage and libraries, where you can discover the world through language and books, without needing money or getting on a plane. And above all, the nurturing, stimulation and development of local talent. A future in which cultural participation brings people closer together despite their differences.
I am grateful that your policy also focuses on the talents who take different paths. In the future, I hope that the narrative of talent that is different will also be embedded in our Canon. Talents who shape new Dutch cultural heritage and show us what you would otherwise overlook. Talents who develop new signatures and make them transferable in their own way.
This pandemic makes everyone vulnerable. Some citizens seem even more affected by a paper reality than others. Cultural policy in an open society is a noble, but contrived system, which in quiet times works extremely well and, unfortunately, at the same time also blocks and excludes...like a clockwork that occasionally jams...Woeful errors that cannot be solved just like that are now more visible to everyone than ever. My hope for the future is that abrasion and friction will make us all more resilient and create brilliance. A future where accessible cultural policy is a given for all.
Rajae El Mouhandiz, Rotterdam, 22.04.2021