Saxony-Anhalt Arts Foundation was established on 15 October 2004 by statute. The Foundation’s board was constituted on 2 February 2005, and in April 2005 the artistic advisory committee convened for the first time. Thanks to its original capital and grants from the sales revenue of Lotto-Toto-GmbH, the Foundation does not rely on public subsidies. Its original remit was to strengthen Saxony-Anhalt’s claim to be a centre of ‘artistic excellence’, but also to raise the state’s profile within Germany. Contemporary art lies at the heart of the funding project.
The basic concept of contemporary art
A concept of art which distinguishes between genres of varying degrees of separation (fine arts, performance arts, music, crafts, etc.) can prove illusory in practice. Depending on the task in hand, many artists deploy different techniques and functional areas of their original fields of activity; thus performance art can communicate with theatre work, design can engage with sculptural developments (and vice versa), while fashion and textiles have long been pursuing free gestures of expression (and vice versa), not to even mention new media technologies. This means that art can no longer be evaluated simply in terms of traditional certainties. This has implications for the Foundation’s funding policy: applications must be judged on their own merits, no matter what their original intentions or intellectual aspirations, and what’s more, they must be evaluated in concrete relation to the solution to the artistic cause for which funding is sought.
The Arts Foundation is a nerve centre for those whose interests and projects are taking them into new artistic or conceptual territory. It offers a helping hand with these ideas and projects, and provides support to artists seeking creative partners and backers for their continuing work.
The Foundation’s board decides on the awarding of grants and project funding twice a year when the advisory committee votes on the matter. However, in principle it is possible to submit an application at any time.
Project funding: The Arts Foundation can approve funding which covers up to 50 per cent of the total cost of a project. Its approval also serves as a recommendation to other potential patrons. Since in the case of smaller projects there is often nowhere else to turn, applications can be made for 100 per cent funding, up to a maximum of 5,000 Euro.
Bursaries: The Arts Foundation awards bursaries of between 3,000 Euro and 6,000 Euro. Bursary extensions are also available.
Since the Foundation was established, nearly 1,300 applications for bursaries or project support have been processed, with some 400 payouts being made or initiated between 2005 and 2011. These have included nine initiative programmes, countless international and special bursaries, and funding for galleries and short films. Grants were also awarded to the artists’ residences at Schloss Wiepersdorf and Haus Lukas Ahrenshoop.
Continuing the cultural history of Saxony-Anhalt
The Arts Foundation is also seeking to ensure that we do not lose sight of the present day as it becomes a part of history. The region’s important past provides meaningful opportunities for achieving this, such as the exhibition ‘A thousand years of baptism in Central Germany’, which was staged in 2006. A competition was organised as the Foundation’s own contribution to the event. A contemporary, liturgically functioning baptismal angel was to be designed for a specific church in Saxony-Anhalt. The Halle sculptor Thomas Leu won first place from a field of 161 German and foreign entrants. Following the presentation in Magdeburg Cathedral, his angel was handed over to St. Nicholas’ Church in Wettin.
Another Arts Foundation initiative project which ties in with Saxony-Anhalt’s great cultural heritage was the 2010 competition to design a new coffin for the tomb of Queen Edith (Eadgyth). In 2008, archaeologists recovered a lead coffin containing the mortal remains of Queen Edith. These were laid to rest again on 22 October 2010 in a sandstone sarcophagus in the choir ambulatory of Magdeburg Cathedral, at the site where they had been discovered. Since the 500-year-old lead coffin was no longer in a suitable condition for reuse, Saxony-Anhalt Arts Foundation was asked by the Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs of Saxony-Anhalt to hold a competition to design a replacement. It had to be worthy of a queen, as well as adding a contemporary edge to a historic occasion. Dresden-based sculptor Kornelia Thümmel won the competition and was commissioned to create the coffin.
International bursary programme
The Arts Foundation has been awarding two international bursaries ever year since it was established. Their intended purpose is to help integrate artists from Saxony-Anhalt into intellectual and organisational networks within the international art world, and to direct cultural stimuli from there back to the state. The Foundation works in association with prominent institutions and guest curators to achieve this. Bursaries have so far enabled artists to travel to New York, Tokyo, Bangkok, Paris, Kaliningrad and Istanbul.
The international bursary programme also awards special bursaries. The Heinrich Theodor Wehle bursary was a case in point. Heinrich Theodor Wehle (1778–1805), a graphic artist from Dessau, joined an expedition to the Caucasus in 1802, where he sketched landscapes and architecture, thus becoming the first European graphic artist to do artistic justice to this region with its rich culture. The bursary for two artists was designed to develop a modern-day perspective by retracing the past. It also represented the Foundation’s contribution to the partnership between the Republic of Armenia and Saxony-Anhalt, which the state’s representation is advancing on behalf of the FRG as part of the cultural agreement with Armenia.
ARTIST IN LAB
This programme considers the possibilities of breaking down the traditional boundaries between art and science. The functional differences between art and the dissemination of knowledge, as well as the need to find a common means of reflecting diverging forms of knowledge, prompted the Foundation to launch the ARTIST IN LAB programme. It is designed to create a link between art work and research work which makes a direct exchange feasible in among the other forms of intellectual accumulation. For three months, bursary winners shadow employees at their work in world-class institutions, such as the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials in Halle, Neurobiology Clinic 2 at the University of Magdeburg, the Leibniz Institute of Neuroscience in Magdeburg and the Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research in Gatersleben. The results of the programme have been presented in both scientific (laboratory, lecture theatre) and artistic (gallery, museum) contexts.
wage-mutig – the Arts Foundation’s short film programme
The Arts Foundation is keen to provide young filmmakers with practical support. Feature films, animation and documentaries all qualify for help, as do experimental forms of factual or fictional cinema (short films up to 30 min. long). Applications are accepted from producers and filmmakers who have their main residence in Saxony-Anhalt or who feature the state in their works. Grants of up to 3,000 Euro are awarded for screenplay and project development, up to 10,000 Euro for film production, and, last but not least, up to 2,000 Euro for presenting their work at national or international festivals. The production of first works must be supervised by a specialist mentor; the Arts Foundation awards grants for this too.
‘Rent-a-Gallery’ – the Arts Foundation’s gallery programme
The gallery project was conceived to encourage those who wish to turn their fresh ideas for exhibition and gallery projects into reality, so that contemporary art from the region can find its place on the art market more successfully than in the past. The Arts Foundation provides grants for staging exhibitions, for PR work, and for production, with a ceiling of 15,000 Euro. In this way, the Foundation attempts to build urban structures of communication, because these are poorly developed even in a city such as Halle. And this despite the fact that the students at Burg Giebichenstein college represent an inexhaustible pool of creativity whose energy could be retained in the region if new infrastructure were only available.
ART AFFAIRS – The Arts Foundation’s specialist fair promotion programme
Art and design fairs provide platforms where artists and designers can showcase, sell and promote their works, and are thus some of the most important exhibition spaces. For it is here that decisions are made not only about hype and relevance, but more than anything about the commercial success of art, artists and galleries. Saxony-Anhalt Arts Foundation lends a helping hand to artists, designers and galleries from the state wishing to attend fairs in Germany or elsewhere which are of international standing. Artists, designers and galleries with their main or primary residence in Saxony-Anhalt can apply. Support is channelled primarily towards young artists, designers and galleries for whom presenting their works at fairs is seen as a first step towards establishing themselves and competing in the art and specialist markets both nationally and internationally. Artists, designers and commercial galleries from Saxony-Anhalt are given financial support of up to 5,000 Euro after successfully completing the application process and being granted permission to exhibit at their chosen fair.
The Arts Foundation supports all bursary winners as they bring the results of their work into the public spotlight, with sponsored invitation cards for the presentation, the publication of a newsletter, a press release, and direct contact with the local media. Every two years, the Foundation organises a reference exhibition at which some of its bursary winners are able to provide a snapshot of the status of regional contemporary art which has yet to become established and is, in most cases, still in its infancy. The works on show from the fields of design, fashion, textiles, jewellery, video art, installation, sculpture, film, photography and painting are intended to represent the entire spectrum of existing design strategies, at the same time demonstrating the level of skill required by those wishing to apply for financial support.
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