Mr. Schulze, you yourself once criticized the Thuringian Prize for Literature when it was accepted on the open stage. How was that exactly?
Ingo Shoals: It was 2007, so that was a long time ago, and at the time there was something else that was taken for granted. The prize for literature, which was awarded 6000 euros, was awarded by the state of Thuringia, funded by “E.ON Energie”. The award is awarded every two years. It was, of course, a conflict for me: 6000 euros is not a small amount and I wanted to accept the prize – but it forced me to deal with E.ON, because since everything was already funded by E.ON, it made me the advertising medium for this group. There would be absolutely no objection if the E.ON Literature Prize were to exist – that would be obvious. But it was the Thuringian Prize for Literature and it was a reasonable amount. If you think you should fund it and turn the prize winner into an ad medium, I don’t think that’s a good thing.
Rather than dismiss it, she preferred to bring up the topic publicly, directly at the awards show.
Schulz: I was fortunate that year to receive such a large community grant for Villa Massimo in Rome. That year I could have given up such an award because I had been given this scholarship, but usually no one could refuse something like that. But you can also fund it in other ways. Then I said: If the Free State of Thuringia is prepared to do it alone, I will give my prize to it. And this is what happened: they invented an annual scholarship for literature, the Harald Gerlach Scholarship, and allocated 6000 euros to it.
Now, the level of moral arousal in people is distributed quite differently. Do you also know colleagues who are not interested in such a thing, according to the motto: a gift horse …?
Schulz: Everyone has to decide for themselves. I don’t want to judge anyone, but in general, this is something that affects our entire society. Today there is greater awareness of this. There are many things to consider. In the end, we’re all stuck in some way: Even if you get something from the state – where does the state get its taxes from? It’s a society with its rules, and you can’t get out of it as an individual.
So you’re saying that art should also be allowed to question economics, right?
Schulz: When I look at an exhibit curated by XY, I also ask myself whether XY should also not be questioned in this art. I think that care also creates dependencies. I can’t really blame companies for that – it’s a location factor for them. I think the sponsorship legislation also says it has to appear to the company. We’ve put in place laws that also force the company to make you an advertising medium. Society, politicians, have to decide and change that.
However, bail makes many things possible that one would not otherwise be able to afford. Unless you have your own opera house in the West Wing and your own picture gallery in the South Wing, right?
Schulz: But this is also a tax issue: If you sponsor, you pay less tax. So you get something from the community. And you have to see how much it makes sense to give it to one’s own hands. For a museum director, it can sometimes be easier to work with private companies because decisions are often quicker at that time. But this is basically questionable. Fortunately, today there is greater awareness of this.
For ordinary people, it is often difficult to tell which company property is still hidden behind sponsors. As a visitor to the exhibition or a visitor to the concert, hardly anyone reads the money pouring in from the place. What you mean?
Schulz: No, it should not be rejected outright, only when it has the upper hand. I think it’s also a matter of dignity. We can and should afford the art. You have to think about sponsorship, because we lose taxpayer money as a result. It’s really a trade off
For some, this currently unclear situation is leading to a demand for some kind of seal of approval for funding in the cultural sector. Do you find it helpful to set clear standards here that are binding on everyone?
Schulz: I didn’t know that. I think that’s a good thing.
led the interview Philip Cavert.