The BKR: a short history of when the Dutch government added artists to their payroll

Do not forget that time the Dutch authorities gave artist’s precise salaries in trade for his or her work? No? Permit us to refresh your reminiscence!

Are you an aspiring Dutch artist within the 70s rebelling in opposition to the system, utilizing up to date artwork to advertise your progressive beliefs, however struggling for a sustainable earnings? Worry not!

With the BKR (Beeldende Kunstenaars Regeling) — an artist subsidy scheme — you possibly can hand over your art work to the federal government and get a wage in return, so as to preserve combating the very system that concurrently offers you with meals and shelter. I’m positive nothing would go incorrect.

Jokes apart, we now have to offer credit the place credit score’s due. The BKR was a daring and distinctive social help that helped many artists after the Second World Battle, together with well-known artists like Armando, Jan Wolkers, and Marlene Dumas.

Studying from Fransje Kuyvenhoven’s analysis on the BKR, we will see that the scheme had a turbulent existence that garnered a relatively destructive public picture which it might or could not deserved. From its start in 1949, to its peak in recognition within the 70s, which subsequently led to its downfall in 1987, the historical past of the BKR is actually price remembering.

“Don’t hand in moist”

When the BKR was first established in 1949, its objective was to assist struggling artists on their strategy to monetary independence. Dutch municipalities may implement the BKR voluntarily and arrange commissions that valuated the price of a submitted art work.

The art work would then be purchased by the federal government and the value could be recalculated right into a weekly wage for the artist. To this point so good. However identical to any welfare system that sounds a bit too good to be true, it’s sure to be abused by some people.

Municipalities obtained many artwork works. Picture: Hans Van Dijk/Anefo/Wikimedia Commons/CC1.0

The anecdote goes like this: a Rotterdam artist Rijn Rijnse (there’s presumably humor in his title that’s too Dutch for me to grasp) walked right into a bar someday and remembered that he wanted at hand in an art work for the BKR, so he threw some paint on a canvas and handed it in when it was nonetheless moist. That very afternoon he got here again to the bar and declared with satisfaction that his “scribblings” would preserve him fed for just a few extra months.

Such a stereotype of an artist dwelling on BKR subsidy was very wide-spread throughout the Netherlands, so wide-spread in reality, that it’s rumored that an artwork assortment level in Amsterdam as soon as hung up a board with “Don’t hand in moist” on it.

Analysis carried out within the 80s confirmed that 20% of the artists utilizing the BKR have been certainly exploiting the system. Sadly, the opposite 80% of trustworthy staff may need nonetheless contributed to BKR’s eventual termination by, sarcastically, working too arduous.

Drafty attics and damp basements

In 1969, the BKR skilled an explosive progress in members. Lured by its advantages, college students flocked to artwork academies, overseas artists immigrated to the Netherlands, artists moved to the countryside to ask for membership, and with the assistance of the BKR, ladies felt that they might lastly turn out to be the bread-winner.

Municipalities have been flooded with such an enormous quantity of art work that a lot of them couldn’t discover sufficient cupboard space to protect them.

Earlier than 1969, 75% of the BKR artworks have been taken in by the Cultural Heritage Company of the Netherlands. As a result of the company’s depots had run out of area by 1969, it took in solely 50% of artworks from then on.

From 1978, the Cultural Heritage Company tried its greatest to absorb as few artworks as potential whereas renting out many works as quick as they might. The municipalities weren’t doing too good both. Tales of irreversibly broken artworks in drafty attics and damp basements have been picked up by the media, whereas the price of each cupboard space and artist salaries piled up.

1000’s of artworks

Simply as an example what number of artworks there have been, listed below are some information. When the BKR was lastly abolished, the Netherlands had half 1,000,000 extra artworks sitting in its warehouses.

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Of those, 20,000 items have been declared “museum worthy” and the remainder got the same old therapy of mediocre artwork. They turned wall decorations, got to establishments as presents, returned to the artists, slowly trickled again into the market, or have been merely minimize up and made into comparatively enticing pocket book covers.

“Politicians go behind your again”

Shouldering large monetary burden, the Ministry of Social Affairs turned to tighter rules and austerity measures, each of which have been met with fierce protests. It was the start of the tip.

The determined artists, armed with rage-fueled creativity (the worst sort of creativity), have been combating a dropping battle.

Artists occupied museums. Picture: Koen Suyk/Anefo/Wikimedia Commons/CC1.0

One good factor that got here out of all these, is that a few of the protests have been arguably hilarious. Museums have been occupied by tons of of artists, together with the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam (twice), the Metropolis Museum in Schiedam, the Metropolis Museum in Alkmaar, the Boymans van Beuningen and the Metropolis Museum in Groningen.

And by “occupy” I imply sleeping peacefully in entrance of work. It will quickly be obvious that artists have been far more respectful in the direction of artworks than politicians.

In 1983, State Secretary for Social Affairs Louw de Graaf tried to clarify the austerity plan and was met with a number of flying objects together with paint, chairs and microphones. Prime Minister Lubbers Brinkman, then again, bought a pie within the face.

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Three years later, a bunch of artists arrange 150 gallows within the open-air theater of the Zuiderpark in The Hague—one for every member of the Home of Representatives, clearly. One other group expressed their displeasure with a portray titled “politicians go behind your again” that depicts Lubbers standing bare with a quirt in hand and the satan at his aspect.

Th artists arrange 150 wood gallows. Picture: Rob Bogaerts/Anefo/Wikimedia Commons/CC1.0

Some would argue that the protesters may need shot themselves within the foot with these wacky antics. And they’re in all probability proper. As a result of columnists positive went to city with all of the commotion. And everyone knows how persuasive media will be, particularly when humor is concerned.

The Republic of Rottum

When 35 artists traveled to Rottumeroog — an uninhabited island within the Wadden Sea — to proclaim it the “Republic of Rottum” in protest, a columnist of De Telegraaf was delighted by the concept of all 3163 visible artists dwelling in concord on a small island away from the Netherlands.

The one downside was, every artist would possess a complete of 1 sq. meter of dwelling space. The Republic of Rottum would’ve regarded like a breeding floor for penguins.

Finish of an period

On January 1, 1987, the federal government lastly pulled the plug on the BKR. It’s a disgrace that its legacy all the time has a destructive connotation to it. In spite of everything, the BKR did its job, albeit a bit too effectively.

When Karel Appel handed away, no one talked about that his well-known portray “Questioning Youngsters” was offered by the BKR. Even Appel himself denied that he was ever part of it. It will be a disgrace to neglect the BKR’s historical past.

We’d be taught one thing from it, like by no means throw a pie within the Prime Minister’s face if he writes your examine.

Had you heard concerning the BKR earlier than? Tell us your ideas on this retro initiative within the feedback beneath!

Characteristic Picture: Hans Van Dijk/Anefo/Wikimedia Commons/CC1.0

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