Renilde Steeghs

Ambassador for Cultural Cooperation, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Renilde Steeghs (c)Maarten van Haaff/More Europe

The position of Ambassador for International Cultural Cooperation was created in 1980 when the Ministry of Foreign Affairs began to take a greater interest in international cultural policy. Today, culture is fully integrated in Dutch foreign policy. It can open doors and initiate social debate and change at home and abroad. Used in this way within foreign policy, culture is a tool of diplomacy. The Ambassador for International Cultural Cooperation (ACS) operates on the basis of the policy priorities presented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Secretary of State for Education, Culture and Science in a joint letter to Parliament ‘Vision of international cultural policies’, dated April 24th 2012, where priority goals for international cultural co-operation are set out:

  1. promoting the Dutch cultural centers of excellence abroad
  2. promoting market access for Dutch artists, cultural organisations and the creative sector in a number of priority countries around the world
  3. promoting linkages between culture, trade and economic diplomacy
  4. promoting artistic and cultural ties as a tool in international relations (cultural diplomacy).

In July 2012, Renilde Steeghs was appointed Ambassador for International Cultural Cooperation, a position that  she combines with her work as head of the International Cultural Policy Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Ms Steeghs joined the Foreign Service in 1988. During her diplomatic career, her postings abroad included Zagreb, Moscow and Brussels (2007-2010). At the Ministry headquarters in The Hague, she served as head of the UN funds and programmes division (2003-2007) and advisor for economic diplomacy (2010-2012).

The fact that we stay away from the content, that is the value. The fact that we do not want to determine the content is in itself a value that we are exporting.

We should concentrate first on having the basic rights on where the European Union can do things, where the Member States are absolutely unable to do things on their own. And then we can prove our value and build from that.