FGA#43 Art Map Rotterdam no5
The city’s cultural policy is based on three pillars: cultural education, internationalisation, and participation. Big surprise is the huge increase of artists registered with CBK from 1200 to almost 2000. Who will show all this creativity? The institutes cannot or will not do it, there are a handful of galleries, and the project spaces cannot continue to do this for free or on a small budget or on a shoe string. Eight project spaces recently received support through the Mondriaan Fonds Kunstpodium Start scheme and are slowly transforming into professional art institutions. We mentioned them in the list. Others may also get some funding, but not everyone is this lucky. One thing is certain: the (Dutch) art world runs on government money and everybody gets paid. The minister of culture, the directors of the art institutes, the curators, the free lance installers, the cleaners… and despite the Fair pay scheme, artists still get extremely little. When are we going to fix this system error? Cultural workers should check the artist’s fee calculator from kunstenhonorarium.nl and show what is fair.
We searched the internet and social media and found quite a number of new initiatives. This wave of initiatives surely is not only enthusiasm, but born out of necessity. Running your own place makes it possible to explore your own topics such as ecology, migration, or identity politics, and even can generate some income. Rotterdam has always had a spirit of self-organisation. And for artists running a project space can be the cork that keeps your practice afloat, and even can be the start of a career. There are many examples of artists who planted the seed of their success by starting an artist initiative decades ago. It is an old and well-known story that goes back to Courbet and the Salon des Refusés.
White smoke at Melly! Gaby Ngcobo will succeed Sofia Hernandez Chong Cuy, and is the institutes 8th director since its founding in 1990. History is repeating itself, and we have to think of our interview with Catherine David on her last day at WdW (FGA#10, 2005). Rotterdam is constantly changing; curators and directors go and new ones take over. Boijmans director Sjarel Ex left after 18 years; the opening of Depot is his farewell gift to the city. What he also leaves behind is a closed museum completely in ruins. When the Stedelijk Museum closed for renovations for eight years, people sniggered. Rotterdam would do that differently, faster. The setbacks and fights are piling up and our Boijmans will be closed until 2030. Big mystery remains: What did Sjarel Ex do with our City Collection?, founded in 1988 as a springboard from the local to the international Art world. In 2005 FGA was the first to publish the complete catalogue. Poof… gone!
So are the institutions really ours, and who determines the discourse? An art institute should be a place for all, a place of study, presentation, exploring a wide range of topics. Do we leave that to the curators of the institutes, or do we do this together? There is a new interest in D.I.Y. together called commonism: practice based on a sense of ‘multi vocal’ community and inclusion, sharing knowledge, common ownership, relationships and cooperations, putting forward their own urgent topics and ideas.
Rotterdam Culture Plan 2021-2024 with a total of 85 million euros per year is distributed among 94 cultural institutions. How much ultimately ends up with the artists for projects and income? Last year only 47 people got an O&O research and development grant. In previous years this was even less. This means around 2% of those 2000 artists get money, and 98% not. That percentage must go up, and not always the same artists should hit the jackpot! Art is not a competition. Solidarity only works when differences aren’t to big. Recently we read something that worries us. If you have less than 1508 euro income per month, you officially live in poverty and belong to the working poor.