Germany boosts art acquisition budget to €3m from €500,000 to support artists and galleries

Government plans to buy 150 works to help overcome the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic

Alicja Kwade's The Day Without Yesterday I (2014) was added to the German federal collection in 2015 Photo: Sammlung zeitgenössischer Kunst der Bundesrepublik Deutschland website

The German government has beefed up this year’s budget for art acquisitions for the federal collection, pledging to buy around 150 works worth €3m in total in a bid to help artists and galleries overcome the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

An independent commission will purchase art directly from artists and galleries across Germany as well as acquiring works at fairs, the culture ministry says in a statement. Most acquisitions will not exceed €20,000, the statement adds.

The six-fold increase in the budget is intended as a “quick and effective impetus to revive art production in a difficult climate”, say the culture minister Monika Grütters in a statement. “Spreading the acquisitions broadly should above all help small galleries to profit and direct purchases from studios should encourage and support artists.”

The federal collection of contemporary art was founded in 1971 and encompasses 1,700 works to date. Until now, its annual budget has not exceeded €500,000. An independent commission, whose members serve for five years, selects the acquisitions.

The Federal Association of German Galleries and Fine Art Dealers (BVDG) says its members have been “drastically damaged” by the coronavirus lockdown and subsequent restrictions, with galleries suffering income losses of between 60% and 100%. The association has demanded a series of government measures to help dealers get back on their feet, including a dramatic reduction in VAT and tax incentives for art purchases.