Noorderlicht Under Threat

I was dumbfounded to read that the Cultural Council of The Netherlands advised the Dutch Government to cut the financial support to Noorderlicht after 2012. Particularly when this followed one of the most succesful exhibitions to be held in the Netherlands, certainly in recent memory, Cruel & Unusual (see also my  second post, Cruel & Unusual 2) a show that had prompted me to write the post We Need A Noorderlicht Here.

The cutting of financial support to Noorderlicht would be a disaster not just for the organisation, not just for photography in the Netherlands, but for photography around the world. And as they say on their site, the advice came following a very favourable evaluation by the council:

“A front-ranking national and international position, standing out for its engaged themes and good presentations. Good educational programmes, realistic plans for generating its own incomes, and an engaged attitude with regard to developing new talent. Noorderlicht generates considerable media attention here and in other countries.

On the web site are some suggestions as to ways that you can show your support for Noorderlicht,  including recording your opinion on the Noorderlicht and ‘Noorderlicht Has to Stay‘ Facebook pages. It takes only a few seconds to ‘Like’ the page, and comments are welcome.

Noorderlicht’s work has been ground-breaking in many areas through its festivals and projects, notably for me with Nazar which opened up a whole area of Arab photography (and of course it has also had festivals featuring Latin American, African and Asian work.)

I can’t help wondering if the show Cruel and Unusual, a great popular success, was too much for some of the cultural politicians to take. Perhaps if cultural institutions seem likely to bring about any political change they are likely to lose official funding.

This is a case that reminds me of what happened in England, where last year the Arts Council cut funding for Side Gallery, the only gallery in this country devoted to documentary photography and again with a truly international reputation. That decision was called  “a profoundly stupid, culturally illiterate and illogical decision“,  a description that seems to apply also in the case of Noorderlicht.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.