ICOMOS-NL in 2007-2008

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ICOMOS                                                                  Netherlands
ICOMOS-NL in 2007-2008
2007 has been a difficult year for ICOMOS-NL. The bureau had to stop its operation due to lack of
funds. For over 20 years the Ministry of Culture had provided an annual grant to ICOMOS-NL. This
enabled our association to employ a part time professional*) (12 hrs/week) who secured the
communication, and acts as a structural point of contact, both for the International Secretariat, for the
ISC’s and for the members on a national level.

Due to a political change in the public finance system it was announced that the annual grant would be
stopped by 2008. This means that the staff of ICOMOS-NL could no longer be employed. The
membership fee is enough to cover the international membership fee transferred to Paris, with only a
small extra for overhead costs. Half of the budget of about 35.000 euro would be cut.

The board and bureau protested, without success in keeping the grant. Our main argument was that
ICOMOS has an official task in advising on World Heritage matter in which the Netherlands has an
obligation, being state party to the World Heritage Convention. For that reason it is arguable that the
state supports ICOMOS in its very existence and basic operations. This argument was supported by
the advisor on the World Heritage nomination files currently in progress. He treated that the
nomination file to be presented in 2009 would mention that the Netherlands has no national ICOMOS
committee any more. This had another positive effect.

Some of the ICOMOS tasks were appointed to a new national institute, financed by the Ministry of
Culture. This institute offered to support ICOMOS-NL in return for a narrow co-operation and access
to the ICOMOS-network.

The current situation in the heritage sector in The Netherlands
The fields in which the Ministry of Culture is active, is covered by 9 sector institutes: film, dance,
music, popular music, theatre and heritage. These institutes, fully financed by the state, act as an
intermediaries and practical instrument of the ministry. The institute supports the implementation of
political goals, starts pilot projects that guide other cultural organisations how to implement new ideas
and structural aims. In addition, all institutes have a task in co-ordination the international activities of
the cultural organisations in the country.

For the heritage sector, including museums, monuments, archaeology and archives, the Netherlands
Institute for Heritage – Erfgoed Nederland - was founded in January 2007. Lacking experience in
international affairs the Institute sought co-operation with other parties. At the same time ICOMOS-
NL was in need for support. Both problems were solved in the way that the Netherlands Institute for
Heritage took over the ICOMOS staff member, including his experience and contacts.

ICOMOS-NL still exists as an association of expert members. Questions related to World Heritage
Sites are still the competence of ICOMOS and its board, but can be handled by the employee of the
Institute. The same employee*) supports the ICOMOS-board in its meetings, national assemblies of
members and so forth. In this way the Institute supports ICOMOS-NL in natura.

The tasks and objectives if the Netherlands Institute for Heritage are wider than, but include those of
ICOMOS: support Dutch heritage organisations in international co-operation, be active in the
international heritage network on behalf of the heritage sector, stimulate co-operation by starting pilot-
projects, including those on education and participation of society. A joint objective is to support the
ISC on Shared Built Heritage, on of the priorities of foreign cultural policy in the Netherlands.

*) mr Benedict Goes, art-historian and experienced in the fields of management of museums, archaeology organisations and monuments, has
been employed by ICOMOS-NL since 1999; he is now employed by Netherlands Institute for Heritage and exucet.-secret. of ICOMOS-NL.

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