Uproar After Iceland Cuts Arts Funding in Half

Reykjavik, capital of IcelandPhoto via: My Destination
Reykjavik, capital of Iceland
Photo via: My Destination

On Tuesday, Iceland’s parliament approved a proposal to halve the budget for Myndlistarsjodur, the national body that funds arts projects. As reported by the Art Newspaper, Myndlistarsjodur received 45 million krona in 2013. That budget has been slashed to only 25 million krona going forward.

The cuts have been severely criticized by the Icelandic artistic community. A group of 14 artists—including high-profile figures like Olafur Eliasson, Katrin Sigurdardottir, Erró, and Ragnar Kjartansson­—sent a letter of protest to the government, asking it to increase Myndlistarsjodur’s budget to 50 million krona.

The quantity proposed by the artists equals approximately €320,000, which would amount to €1 per Icelander, TAN points out.

The Danish and Swedish artists’ organizations Billedkunstnernes Forbund and Konstnärernas Riksorganisation have joined the campaign to support their fellow Nordic artists, urging the Icelandic parliament not to reduce Myndlistarsjodur’s budget any further.

The funding body was launched in 2009, at the height of the global recession, when Left-Green politician Katrin Jakobsdottir was minister of culture.

“There is not that much need any longer to cut spending,” Jakobsdottir told TAN. “The fund [Myndlistarsjodur] is not that large and over the years it has helped to make the Icelandic art scene more international.”

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