Friday, June 3, 2011

Shrinking public subsidy forces Venice Biennale to be more reliant on self-generated finance

In an age of shrinking state support, the Venice Biennale has found new ways to generate revenue. This year the the Biennale will fund 87% of its operations. 

The person behind the revenue-generating schemes is Biennale president Paolo Baratta, a cambridge educated economist whose favourite book is Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments. After a career in finance he was made minister of privatisations in 1993 and is said to have a gift for balancing social responsibility with commercial interests.

So what are the new schemes? He is offering countries that don't have a national pavilion the chance to buy a space in the Arsenale's Sale d'Ami for 1.5m each; he charges the collateral exhibitions 20,000 to use the Biennale's logo and appear in the official catalogue (he also says out of the 90 requests this year Bice Curiger rejected 55%); he's raised ticket prices by 30% to 20 (and visitors have risen from 319,332 in 2007 to 375,702 in 2009); and he's reduced the main curatorial show's installation budget thereby forcing some artists to seek additional funding and sponsorships. Read more...
Image: Venice Biennale president Paolo Baratta