“We are a private foundation, but we have public grants. Originally it was about a third of our income. Another comes from the capital of the Beyeler donation, the last in own resources. However, we have developed so well that the amount of the subsidy only represents 10% of our budget, which is around 30 million Swiss francs. [28 millions d’euros].
We were able to keep all the staff, paid at 100%, working from home. The state finances 80% of wages, a bit like in France, I believe, in the event of partial unemployment [l’Etat finance 84 % des salaires]. We used this help at the beginning, and then we stopped because we need people to continue working. One day, this pandemic will end. We do our programming very early on: if we don’t prepare now, we won’t have an attractive offer next year.
I was able to maintain the activity in part thanks to exceptional aid: the Swiss state and the canton of Basel gave money for culture, but in priority to artists and small structures, which I find very well. We received around 100,000 Swiss francs, which is not much, especially if you think that during the closure we lost more than 3 million.
The greatest support came from the private sector. In the first few months, we received nearly 800,000 Swiss francs. And when I called a collector who was financially supporting the “Goya” exhibition to tell him that it would be postponed, not only did he agree to postpone his donation until next year, but he offered me to pay all salaries until the summer! And he’s not even Swiss!
“We must think about the future”
The “Goya” exhibition should have opened on May 14th. We realized too late that it was Saint Corona’s day! All our plans, our dreams have collapsed. Well, once they were on the floor, we put the pieces back together. Solutions have been found to save it, as have the major exhibitions “Rodin / Arp” and “Close-Up”, portraits of female artists from impressionism to contemporary art, postponed until next year.
“If we no longer believe in art, our work no longer makes sense”
I have experienced several crises. That of oil, the end of communism, September 11, the financial crisis… Each time, the world had to change. But, in reality, humans have remained the same. We are sensual beings: we don’t kiss on Zoom! A museum is not just a place of contemplation and education, it is also a place of interaction.
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