publication date 21-5-2012

Comment of the Rijksakademie on the recommendations of the Council for Culture

The Council for Culture has recommended the Secretary of State for Education, Culture, and Science not to grant funding for the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten for the period 2013-2016 yet. The Board proposes that the Rijksakademie submits a joint plan along with fellow institution De Ateliers before year-end and to reserve € 1.5 million to this end. As a boundary condition, however, the Rijksgebouwendienst and the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science have been asked to put forward a solution to the high housing and personnel costs of the Rijksakademie.

The Rijksakademie regards the cooperation with fellow institution De Ateliers as obvious and proposes in its grant application a collaborative model in which both their building and infrastructure are shared. As the Council affirms, the Rijksakademie provides a unique blend of artistic, technical and theoretical facilities and expertise for the development of top talents. The Council also underlines that this cooperation should be maintained in the distinctive profiles of both organizations.

The Rijksakademie is a healthy organization. Since its autonomization, it has successfully partnered with foundations, companies and individuals, both at home and abroad. Income from fundraising has risen sharply in recent years. Artists contribute as well, both in a financial and a material sense, for instance by donating work to the Rijksakademie. There are various collaborations with the corporate world, including at the intersection of art and innovation. This allows the Rijksakademie not only to increase its financial base, but also to create a broader involvement in the context of talent development. With respect to audience development, the Rijksakademie collaborates with partners such as the Stedelijk Museum, and organizes public events such as Rijksakademie OPEN. Lastly but certainly not least, the Rijksakademie can boast an impressive service record in the Dutch and international art field.

In any event, the plan to reserve € 1.5 million for two institutions confronts the Rijksakademie with substantial financial cuts of at least 55%. This also brings the continuity of this more than 140-year old institution under serious pressure. The current offer, and consequently the number of residency places, can no longer be guaranteed, and the actual operation is very much hindered by the prevailing uncertainty. An allocated budget from the Mondrian Fund, as recommended by the Council, may bring relief.

The Rijksakademie will further disengage from its responsibilities in terms of the management of State Collections and the Prix de Rome and will concentrate on the residency program. The first steps have been initiated to transform the current structure into a smaller, more efficient, and flexible organization. These are painful decisions that concern co-workers who for many years and with tremendous effort have contributed to the strong reputation and position of the Rijksakademie.

The Rijksakademie hopes to continue the talks with both De Ateliers and the Ministry and concretise plans as quickly as possible; this in view of both the continuity of the residencies and the institution’s accountability to its (financial) partners.

For an overview of the recommendations made by the Council for Culture, please visit this link  (in Dutch)
'Talent strijkt elders neer'- Parool, 22 mei 2012 'Raad haald hard uit naar kunstinstellingen'- Trouw, 22 mei 2012