Cultural policy 

What we have achieved so far: exhibition payments, grants, good conditions for artistic production

The Berlin Model - exhibition payments

The concept of the "Berlin Model" is simple and has worked like this since January 2016:

This specially created fund, which is firmly anchored in the state budget of Berlin, is provided exclusively for the remuneration of professional visual artists, and thus for the provision of their artistic works or performances in temporary exhibition projects at Berlin's municipal galleries. This ensures that the payments are not made at the expense of exhibition planning. Corresponding contracts for the payment of production, catalogue or material costs, or curatorial services, set-up work or transport costs naturally have to be concluded in addition, as was the case before.

At the beginning of the year, Berlin's municipal galleries submit applications to the Senate Department for Culture and Europe regarding their need for funds and in accordance with their exhibition planning for the full current year. Since January 2018, this has corresponded to the following scale of payments (the payments are to be understood as minimum payments):

  • Individual exhibition (1-2 artists): min. € 2,500 / artist (previously € 1,500)
  • Small group exhibition (3-9 artists): min. € 800 / artist (previously € 500)
  • Group exhibition (>10 artists): min. € 400 / artist (previously € 250)
  • Group exhibition (>30 artists): min. € 150 / artist (previously € 100)

The Fund for Exhibition Payment - FABiK, which has been paid in Berlin's municipal galleries since January 2016, was increased from € 300,000 to € 400,000 in 2017 for the 2018/19 double budget, and again significantly to € 650,000 from 2022 onwards. All exhibiting artists benefitted from the Fonds Ausstellungsvergütung für bildende Künstler*innen (FABIK), regardless of their place of residence. Previously until 2018, this was only possible for artists who resided in Berlin. The minimum fees apply to all exhibitions sponsored by the state or held in municipal galleries.

The municipal galleries themselves manage the funds flowing into the district budgets through contract management. They are earmarked; the districts of Berlin cannot use them for purposes other than making exhibition payments.

The galleries conclude contracts with the artists for the exhibition payments. The exhibition payment is made as a gross payment. Any tax liabilities are to be borne by the artists. The exhibition payment is considered income from artistic activities by the artists' social insurance fund (KSK).

From an artist's point of view, you cannot get rich with these payments. They are, however, more than a symbol, namely a sign of the explicit appreciation of artistic work by the representatives of the public.

Considering the precarious economic foundation of the artistic profession in most cases, additional income, even if only a few hundred euros per year, can definitely be of great importance to individual artists.

In addition, exhibition payments are freely negotiable at any time; each state and municipality can set rules for this purpose which they themselves consider appropriate and plausible. The State of Berlin has now made use of this room to manoeuvre and has thus sent an extremely important message to all the states in Germany.

After initiatives in the German Bundestag to reform copyright law in the interest of visual artists failed ten years ago, the bbk berlin, in cooperation with the municipal galleries, has been working towards the realisation of this pragmatic and simple model.

The "Berlin Model" and a reform of copyright law in the sense of the "Initiative Ausstellungsvergütung", for example, are not mutually exclusive; on the contrary, they would complement each other. The "Berlin Model" results in self-commitment by the state or a municipality. Payment is made on the basis of individual contracts for the use of works owned by the artists themselves, i.e. for making a work belonging to them available for this purpose - and only for this purpose.

A reform of copyright law, however, would involve an extension and improvement of exhibition law so that, in principle, remuneration would have to be paid to the author of a work of fine art - or to the heirs - for each use in an exhibition - irrespective of the ownership of the work and irrespective of the organiser of the exhibition. Legal claims do not end until 70 years after the death of an author. In most cases, this can only be achieved in a sensible way by involving a collecting society. This society would distribute income to its members, gained from assertion of claims for remuneration against the users or their associations, according to distribution principles as yet to be decided.

Legally and practically, the "Berlin Model" and the enforcement of an exhibition fee claim are very different matters than copyright law. This is partly because the "Berlin Model" can be practiced decentrally at any time by federal states and municipalities, while copyright law is a federal matter. One topic can thus be pursued without abandoning the other. Artistic work always has a value. But in this case, it must also have its price.

bbk berlin, May 2017 (editorial updated in August 2022)

"Exhibition Remuneration Initiative"

2021: New Guidelines and Minimum Fees

Minimum fees for artistic work

The demands of Koalition der Freien Szene (KDFS, the Berlin Coalition of the Independent Arts) were very helpful for the bbk berlin's lobbying for exhibition fees.

"The scholarships are intended for the artistic/curatorial development of professional artists, curators and artistic or curatorial groups in the field of visual arts in Berlin who have proven themselves through their work.

Artistic/curatorial development especially requires the opportunity to develop new ideas and approaches. For this reason, scholarship holders should be given the opportunity to carry out research projects of their own choice, e.g:

  • For research or preliminary work on a specific topic
  • For the development of projects
  • For the development of new/other working techniques
  • For the continuation or completion of certain work
  • For mediation, documentation or publication etc.

Criteria for the awarding of a scholarship are primarily the quality of previous artistic work and the quality of the research and work project.

The "Arbeitsstipendien" (Berlin scholarships for visual artists) are endowed with €16,000 (8 months) or €24,000 (12 months) each.

In 2023, only 16 working scholarships were awarded and not 25 scholarships as previously planned!

137 research grants for visual artists in 2023

In 2015, the bbk berlin set out the demand for 350 "time scholarships" (today called research grants) in the 10-Point-Paper of the Koalition der Freien Szene (KDFS, the Berlin Coalition of the Independent Arts). In the same year, these were awarded for the first time from the so-called "city tax" funds, and from 2016 onwards from a separate fund within the budget of Berlin's Senate Department for Culture and Europe. In 2022, there were given 82 scholarships for visual artists and 18 for curators.

The bbk berlin succeeded in significantly increasing the number of research grants for the 2022/23 double budget. In 2023, 1,096,000 euros were made available in the budget for this purpose, and 137 research grants were awarded.

Our demands regarding the number of scholarships have not yet been met. For this reason, the bbk berlin is calling for a significant increase in the number of scholarships to 500 per year for artists working in Berlin.