‘Subsidies create average art’

The Dutch system for subsidising the visual arts leads to average art, has a dire effect on the modern art market and increases the gulf between artists and the public at large, according to the directors of the Netherlands’ two biggest subsidy pools, the Volkskrant reports on Monday.

Lex ter Braak of the BKVB visual arts fund and Gitta Luiten of the Mondriaan Foundation say in a new book that the way subsidies are granted needs an overhaul.
The current system is counterproductive and has not led to an increase in international attention or higher quality, the duo argue. Decisions on who gets subsidised are often coupled with a ‘conflict of interests or nepotism’.
The current system creates compromise rather than excellence, Luiten told the paper. The current system has become a safety net for poor artists. ‘In this day and age it is not the government’s job to support everyone who calls themselves an artist,’ Ter Braak said.
Instead, the anonymous commissions should be replaced with people who are forced to justify their choices. And the money available for subsidies should be spread between fewer people, the duo said.
The BKVB and Mondriaan Foundation receive a total €32m in government subsidies.

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