The Code - English language version

A large part of the Dutch cultural sector seems to reflect only a certain part of society. The audience, viewers and buyers, are predominantly white native Dutch. The partners and staff that are involved are seldom heterogeneous in terms of cultural background. Applications submitted to the cultural funds rarely come from culturally diverse organizations.

The Code provides a stepping-stone to develop comprehensive diversity policy in the area of Personnel, Public, Programme and Partners. The institutions themselves are responsible for whether or not to apply the Code. In practice, this happens relatively infrequently. Because of the cuts and the restructuring in the past policy period, this tool was not on everyone’s agenda. In 2015 Dutch Ministry of Culture (Ministerie OCW) has asked Dutch Federation of Culture (FC) to bring the Code again in the crosshairs of the sector. This resulted in a roadmap that has been formed in cooperation with binoq atana.


To reach out to the culturally diverse part of society, the Dutch cultural sector has launched in 2011 the Code Cultural Diversity (CCD). The Dutch population, after all, consists of more than 1.9 million people of non-Western origin. In the major cities these percentages are significantly higher (around 35%) discounting from this rate the third generation of migrants. This is a relatively large population segment of which about 80 percent are younger than 15 years: a distinct group that definitely should be taken into account.

The 4 P's


The activities, products and services of the organisation


The consumers of the products and services

Personnel (including the Board members)

Referring to the number and competences of the people who work for the organisation, including paid staff with a temporary or indefinite contract of employment, volunteers, interns and work experience students, directors, supervisory directors, members of the advisory committee, etc.


External parties (organisations and individuals) who supply or otherwise collaborate with the institution

How was the Code created?

The Cultural Diversity Code has been developed by the cultural sector itself. Rather than waiting for instructions to be imposed ‘from on high’, the sector took the initiative of producing a Code which it believes to be cogent, practical and realistic. The formal client was the Cultural Diversity Code Steering Group.

Based on the sense of urgency felt by all partners, the steering group began a broad process with the focus on constructive dialogue with organisations in the field. Specialist development teams for various disciplines, consultation meetings with influential parties, and lively dialogues in the four major cities all

contributed to the development of a Code which enjoys very broad support. The steering group was able to rely on the advice and assistance of a review board made up of representatives of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW), the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG), the G4 alliance and the major cultural funds.

The Cultural Diversity Code is voluntary but the general principle is ‘comply or explain’. The steering group hopes that it will do much to embed cultural diversity firmly within the day-to-day practice of all organisations in our sector.

How to anchor the Code in Your organization?

Diversity is not yet embedded within the (publicly financed) cultural sector. Although many organisations do indeed devote some attention to cultural diversity in their programming, they often do so through incidental activities which take place on location and are financed separately. This gives rise to the risk of polarisation: we could see the development of two distinct cultural sectors: one with diverse activities and a diverse public, and the other with mainstream activities and a relatively homogenous public.

This is undesirable, particularly in the large cities. We forget that renewal in art and culture has so often been the result of an open mind and inquisitiveness about people with a different background. The cultural sector is selling itself short.

A study examining diversity within publicly financed cultural institutions concludes that the ‘white monoculture’ remains dominant. (LAgroup: De olifant in de kamer, Amsterdam, 2008). And yet 90% of institutes state that cultural diversity is important to them, and 80% believe that cultural diversity should be regarded as an intrinsic value. The pursuit of diversity is not, however, automatic. A Diversity Code produced by the sector itself can help to ensure that organisations not only talk about diversity but actually work to achieve it in practice.