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Germany’s Kunstmuseum Stuttgart.
Germany’s Kunstmuseum Stuttgart.

Germany Increases National Art Acquisition Budget by 600 Percent

On Monday, the German government announced a surprise six-fold addition to the Federal Art Collection’s acquisition budget as part of a new cultural initiative to help artists, galleries, and dealers impacted by the pandemic. The ministry’s funds will increase from $590,000 to $3.5 million.

The bonus aims to “provide a rapid and effective impulse to revive art production in the current difficult situation,” according to Culture Minister Monika Grütters. It is an addendum to the country’s $1.17 billion New Start initiative, a bailout for the cultural sector that launched in June and has been favorably compared to the Depression-era Federal Art Project in the United States.

The majority of the June relief package was earmarked for institutions that do not already receive public funding. Its focus on institutions was criticized by organizations including the Association of Visual Artists in Berlin, which charged the culture ministry with ignoring the needs of freelancers.

The pandemic-response initiative is tasked with purchasing about 150 works from art fairs, from small galleries, and directly from artists’ studios, with the stipulations that individuals and organizations may not apply to be considered and that no acquisition is to be valued above $24,000. All decisions will be based on recommendations from five jurors, who will serve for a period of five years: the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart’s Ulrike Groos, the Hamburger Bahnhof’s Anna-Catharina Gebbers, the Kunsthalle Bielefeld’s Friedrich Meschede, and the MARTa Herford’s Roland Nachtigäller. The Federal Art Collection was founded in 1970 and holds about 1,700 works of art, which are loaned out to national museums.