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“I preach for more investment in art facilities”

“I preach for more investment in art facilities”

Photographer:Fotograaf: archive Rachel Pownall

Inaugural lecture by Prof. Rachel Pownall

MAASTRICHT. She is the first professor of Arts and Finance in the world. “The culture of finance is in need of change, and art can help to make it fairer, freer and more ethical”, says Prof. Rachel Pownall. In addition to her chair at UM, she is also a professor at Tilburg University and collaborates with the Van Gogh Museum and other institutions.

“The great economic growth of recent decades came together with negative consequences; think of the environment, health and social problems”, says Pownall. “This decrease in wellbeing is, in the long run, unsustainable for business and society. And at the same time, arts institutions have been underfunded because the financial market doesn’t value the positive contributions they make.” She wants individuals and institutions to make more sustainable, long-term financial decisions that benefit both business and society. “Along with economic values, we need to include social and cultural values in financial decision making. These have been neglected in the past.”

How to do this? “I preach for more investment in art facilities, museums, cultural enterprises and the creative industry: in artistic values. Accessibility of culture and cultural events – exhibitions, concerts, theatre and so on – will improve people’s lives. They’ll enjoy day-to-day life more, and that will reduce stress while increasing creativity and social contact. All this will decrease future risks, for example in healthcare, with all the consequences that entails for governmental spending. The discipline of finance can learn from the arts, and thus the arts will benefit from more finance.”

Pownall, who will give her inaugural lecture on 18 March during TEFAF, definitely plans to attend the arts fair. “I like TEFAF Modern, which is upstairs in the Mecc. It’s less exclusive and more affordable. A couple of years ago my husband bought two photographs there from the dealer Daniel Blauberg: NASA pictures of the moon landing, taken by Neil Armstrong. They’re part of a limited edition.” What’s her main motive when it comes to selecting a piece? “First, it has to express a comfortable feeling, a positive emotion. It also has to have potential resale value; after all, we’re talking about an investment.” And finally: “I would buy from the artists themselves. That way you’re giving your investment more impact. Impact is subjective – it has a different meaning for everybody – but to me it means the money goes directly to the artist.”

MACCH conference on fair and just practices

During TEFAF – from 11 until 20 March – the Maastricht Centre for Arts and Culture, Conservation and Heritage (MACCH) will hold its annual conference. This time, it will be in the Bonnefanten museum and the theme will be: Fair and Just Practices.
In this centre, researchers from four Maastricht faculties (Arts and Social Sciences, Law, School of Business and Economics and Humanities and Sciences) work together in the field of art and heritage research; the official kick-off was last year. The Stichting Restauratie Atelier Limburg and the Sociaal Historisch Centrum are also allied to MACCH. The centre has a strong research section – working both on its own initiative and on behalf of others (services) – and is involved in education. One of the successes was the acquisition of a European subsidy for NACCA: fifteen Ph.D. candidates were appointed for this project in the field of ‘conservation and contemporary art’. Students are involved too, for example in a feasibility survey for a euregional museum pass (cooperation with ‘border’ institute ITEM).”
On Friday 18 March, two inaugural lectures will take place within the framework of the seminar. First, Prof. dr. Pip Laurenson will hold a lecture on ‘Practice as Research: Unfolding the Objects of Contemporary Art Conservation’ followed by Prof. dr. Rachel Pownall on ‘The arts and finance’. The keynote speaker on 19 March is Olav Velthuis, Associate Professor at the University of Amsterdam.

Fake it or Leave it!

In co-operation with Lumière and Studium Generale, MACCH is organising a film programme. Like the conference, the film series aims to analyse, visualise and contextualize fair and unfair practices in art and heritage worlds from a variety of disciplinary and trans-disciplinary perspectives. The films: F for fake (Orson Welles) on 15 March, Beltracchi: the art of forgery (Arne Birkenstock) on 16 March, The rape of Europa (Richard Berge & Bonni Cohen) on 17 March. The films are followed by a debate or have an introduction by an expert.




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