The directors of nine photography organisations in the Netherlands that currently form the core of Platform Fotografie Nederland (PFN), wrote an open letter to the minister of Culture Ms. Ingrid van Engelshoven on November 9.

In the letter, the Nederlands Fotomuseum, BredaPhoto, Zilveren Camera, Paradox, Noorderlicht, FOTODOK, Maria Austria Institute, World Press Photo, Museum Hilversum as well as the organisation representing photography professionals in the Netherlands, Dupho, request the minister to revoke the decisions made by the Mondriaan Fund in the framework of the Kunstpodia (‘Art Stages’) scheme introduced in 2020. Over the two years of its existence, the scheme has managed to marginalise photography. No more than a meagre 4.4% of the available €10 million was granted to organisations dealing with photography, leaving well established festivals as Noorderlicht and BredaPhoto, as well as production house Paradox in the dust.

Studying the Kunstpodia criteria and their interpretation reveals the underlying problem that PFN has made its main focus: photography is administratively considered to be a genre of fine arts. The largest and most influential visual medium of our times, needs its own title in the framework of the national cultural policy for the visual arts at large, however.

‘The success of photography museums in the Netherlands over the past 25-30 years has demonstrated the public, artistic and social power of this medium-specific approach. It is only logical to harmonize the policy with regard to professionals, smaller-scale presentation organisations, festivals, producers and other parties relevant to the sector’ PFN writes in the letter to the minister. ‘We therefore ask you to take the necessary (historical) steps to grant photography an independent position in the cultural system in the coming cabinet term. In accordance with the situation for the other (major) visual arts: film, design, architecture and, of course, fine arts.’

PFN is aware of the fact that similar developments are happening across Europe: in France a medium-specific approach with regard to the photobook has been put in place as part of the policy for literature, in Germany a newly established German Photo Council (Photorat) was established in order to be able to participate in the overarching Deutscher Kulturrat e.V. (German Cultural Council). Inspiring signs, let’s keep each other informed! The PFN website has been made bilingual, do not hesitate to write: