Germany Plans Arts Budget Boost of $356 Million; Says ‘Culture is the Foundation of a Democratic Society’

In further news: women wearing rainbow badges beaten in Beijing’s 798; gallerists Georg Kargl and Richard Gray have passed away

Berlin City Palace under construction, 2017. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons; photograph: Doovele

Berlin City Palace under construction, 2017. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons; photograph: Doovele

Berlin City Palace under construction, 2017. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons; photograph: Doovele

The German minister for culture Monika Grütters has announced a significant boost for annual national arts funding of USD$356 million, which if passed by parliament, amounts to a 23% increase. Grütters said that it was meant to emphasize how ‘culture is the foundation for our open and democratic society’. The new budget plans include USD$4.4 million for the Humboldt Forum Foundation, which manages the Humboldt Forum museum project scheduled to open in 2019. Grütters has also produced a code of conduct for German museums on handling colonial loot – the document provides guidelines for provenance research. ‘The colonial era has been a blind spot in our culture of remembrance for too long,’ she said. ‘With these guidelines, the German Association of Museums is presenting a comprehensive contribution to a discussion that doesn’t end here but is only just starting.’

Two young women wearing rainbow badges have been beaten by security guards at Beijing’s art district 798. A video of the incident, which was widely shared on Chinese social media, shows the guards pushing and punching the women, who were later hospitalized. A staffer of the Beijing Administrative Committee for 798 District told the Global Times: ‘Wearing a rainbow badge is illegal to me, and they, the homosexuals, have distorted sexual orientation – it is terrifying.’ One anonymous staff member of a 798 institution told the Art Newspaper: ‘The comments made by governing bodies of 798 in the Global Times are disgusting and offensive to LGBTQ groups. I think that is adding more insult to the situation.’ Although homosexuality is not illegal in the country, the LGBT community is routinely subjected to state repression, alongside a wider clampdown on civil society activity in China.

In gallery news: Viennese gallerist Georg Kargl has passed away at the age of 62 – he established Georg Kargl Fine Arts in 1998, which represents artist including Rosemarie Trockel, Raymond Pettibon and Andreas Fogarasi. ‘Georg was not only a visionary art dealer with a sincere commitment to art apart from economics and trends, but a respected mentor and genuine friend,’ Kargl’s wife, Brazilian artist Inés Lombardi, said. Chicago dealer Richard Gray has passed away at the age of 89 – the gallery, which will continue under Gray’s son Paul Gray and partners Andrew Fabricant and Valerie Carberry, confirmed the news. Richard Gray Gallery opened in Chicago in 1963 – artists who have shown there include Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko and Agnes Martin – it currently occupies spaces in New York and Chicago; 

In appointments news: Hartmut Dorgerloh has been named director of Berlin’s Humboldt Forum – he replaces Neil MacGregor, formerly of the British Museum. The museum project is slated to open in 2019; the New Museum have announced Stephanie Pereira as director of the institution’s art, design and tech incubator NEW INC – she previously worked for Kickstarter.

In awards news: Luke Willis Thompson has won the 2018 Deutsche Börse photography prize. The London-based New Zealander (who is also shortlisted for the 2018 Turner Prize) won the GBP£30,000 prize for his film Autoportrait (2017) focusing on Diamond Reynolds, a young black American woman who, in July 2016, broadcast live via Facebook the moments after her partner, Philando Castile, was shot dead by a police officer in St Anthony, Minnesota. Read a review of his 2016 show ‘Cemetery of Uniforms and Liveries’ at Galerie Nagel Draxler, Berlin here.

And finally, UK arts organization DASH are launching residencies for curators who identify as disabled, working with Bristol’s Arnolfini, MAC Birmingham and Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, with GBP£100,000 of Arts Council England funding alloted to the project. DASH artistic director Mike Layward commented: ‘There is a lack of disabled people in positions of influence within the visual arts, and the longer-term aims of the project are to support the development of disabled curators, who will become the directors of the future.’

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