Cross-border behavior in the cultural sector is a persistent problem

Cross-border behavior in the culture and media sector is a persistent problem. The increase in the number of incidents coming out is just “a tip of the iceberg,” says the Council for Culture in a new report.

The Council advises cultural institutions, among other things, to discuss power relations and their own behavior and limits in the workplace. For example, cultural institutions must reach agreements “about what is and what is not allowed in specific situations”.

Notifications tripled

except to sexual transgressive behaviour, the Council also looked at bullying, intimidation, racism and discrimination based on gender, religion or other personal characteristics. At Mores, the reporting center for undesirable behavior in the culture and media, they see a clear increase in the number of reports.

“Particularly in response to the situation surrounding the television program The Voice (Talpa) and the broadcast of ANGRY (BNN/VARA) there was a lot going on,” says Jeanette Jager, confidential adviser at Mores. Last year Mores received 57 reports, this year already 157.

And that’s just “the tip of the iceberg,” says Jager. “Reporting takes a lot of courage. There is a lot of fear and shame. The reasons for someone to contact you vary from unpleasant jokes in the orchestra pit to unwanted touches and even rape. Sometimes it concerns older incidents from as much as twenty years ago.”

Performance culture and physical contact

Employees in the culture and media sector are particularly vulnerable, as emerges in the advice of the Council for Culture. This has to do with the “performance culture” in the sector. “And physical contact is an inseparable part of the work in many genres.”

In addition, there is “a large supply of talent” for a limited amount of work. Casting directors, teachers and artistic directors are sometimes too little aware of the unequal balance of power. This makes self-employed workers especially vulnerable. That is why the Council advocates “fairer remuneration and a better legal position” for self-employed workers in the sector.


Actress Jacqueline Blom (known for Second Hans, Penoza and Lunatik) recognizes this. During her decades-long career in the world of film, theater and TV, she saw a lot happen. “Artistic leaders or directors determine who can or cannot play and what roles someone gets. Strangely enough, they are often not very aware of that position of power.”

“I have experienced many unpleasant situations,” says Blom:

‘The people who said something no longer work in the cultural sector’

In the report, the Council for Culture recommends making a didactic note compulsory for teachers in the culture sector, showing that they have a teaching qualification. There should also be a knowledge center that structurally investigates cross-border behaviour.

The Council also advocates that the government financially supports the Mores hotline in order to be able to help all victims. Jager: “Reporters have not received any recognition for the situation they would like to discuss. It is important that we give them back control and together we see what steps can be taken and what our support will be in this.”

Actress Blom, who will soon be launching a website about equal representation of women in the cultural sector, applauds the Council’s advice. “It is good that in the future it will really be about a system change and a change in behaviour. That takes time and that will sometimes hurt. We are all in a patriarchal system and that has shortcomings. You notice it everywhere society that people want it to change, including men.”

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