De Appel Launches Petition to Fight Complete Funding Cut and Uncertain Future

The troubles at the Amsterdam art institution rage on.

De Appel has launched a petition to jeep its public funding. Courtesy De Appel.
De Appel has launched a petition to jeep its public funding. Courtesy De Appel.

The troubles at De Appel show no sign of abating. The Amsterdam art institution is now under the threat of having its government funding cut completely, which would leave the landmark institution facing either dramatic changes or, potentially, a complete shutdown.

Last week, De Appel sent out a statement and a petition asking that the public to voice their support.

“We are shocked,” the statement opened. “Recently, the Council for Culture published its advice to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science concerning the so-called basic infrastructure of the Netherlands. The Council advises to completely cut the national funding for de Appel for the next policy period. That would mean the end of De Appel in its current form. Perhaps even the end of the institution altogether.”

Lorenzo Benedetti. Photo via YouTube.

Lorenzo Benedetti. Photo via YouTube.

This latest setback was preceded by a series of controversial events that started with the appointment of renowned curator Lorenzo Benedetti as director of the institution in 2014. Beloved in the art world and considered an “artists’ curator,” Benedetti, according to many, began to put De Appel firmly on the map.

Benedetti was welcomed with open arms by all at De Appel, but the relationship appears to have soured, and 15 months after his appointment he was abruptly dismissed.

Members of the international art world were outraged, and 76 renowned artists, including Ahmet Öğüt, Falke Pisano, and Francesco Pedraglio, published an open letter online supporting Benedetti.

De Appel also functions as an educational facility, running highly prestigious courses for professionals in the art world. Weeks after Benedetti’s dismissal, the entire team of tutors at the De Appel’s Curatorial Program, including Charles Esche, Elena Filipovic, and Chus Martinez wrote a letter—shared in its entirety with artnet News—asking for the resignation of the board, stating that they were withdrawing from the course until the board complied.

Photo courtesy De Appel.

Photo courtesy De Appel.

A court then ruled, in what appeared to be a formality, that Benedetti’s contract should be dissolved based on the fact that he could not deliver strategically and that the two parties had interpreted the role of director differently and that the two parties had interpreted the role of director differently. Previously, it has also been stated that his dismissal had been due to absence from work and communication style.

Three weeks ago, in late May, the entire board of De Appel resigned, releasing a brief statement which read in part: “The decision was made in part due to the developments surrounding the dismissal of director Benedetti.”

In effect this series of events has left De Appel with no director, no board, and potentially no funding, which begs the question: what went down behind closed doors that could lead to the utter implosion of one of Europe’s most respected art institutions?


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