Arjo Klamer was introduced by Arend Hardorff and Geesje Prins (Chassé Theater). This was appropriate as the lecture was organised by the Academy for Leisure in cooperation with Chassé.
Arjo Klamer is Professor in the Economics of Art and Culture at Erasmus University Rotterdam. He explained to an audience of some 90 people that in the past there were several ways to look at the value of the arts. Some looked at art as a product. Like every product, art has a price that is determined by supply and demand. Others regarded art as a public good (as opposed to a private good), which means it should be subsidised.
He showed us that this is a bit strange. When you subsidise a museum and this museum attracts many visitors, it will be the hotels and restaurants in the city that will profit. In other words, public money is used to stimulate businesses!
So he proposed a different approach: we should regard art as a shared good. Art is similar to a conversation: several people contribute to it, they want to be part of it, they want to be heard. People who visit a museum are not consumers, they are participants. Their contribution is necessary. Because, as Arjo Klamer argued, “not the market, not the government, but the things you share together are most important!”