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What is the value of art?

Published 28 Nov 2018 at 16:29 by Leon Caren

Ever heard of the Bitcoin Tracker? I still have one on my phone. It’s one of those apps that shows me how much a Bitcoin is worth. I nearly invested in Bitcoins. Everyone was buying them, and they doubled in worth almost every day… But in the end, I didn’t buy them. Why? Because every time I looked, the prices had exceeded those from the day before. So, it felt like I had already lost money without having invested anything yet. In the end, I did regret not buying into Bitcoins because everything I owned could have been worth four times as much. Well, maybe not everything… Not my children anyway; can’t put a price tag on them. Or my friends. Or the latest Mount Eerie album – A Crow Looked at Me. When I first listened to that album tears welled up in my eyes because I was so moved by the music. That’s just a short list of things that don’t change in value, whether I own Bitcoins or not.

Now that the decline of the Bitcoin has gone public; the gold rush has evaporated. So, what are we left with? Yet another realisation moment reminding us that value is volatile, and elusive. In the financial world at least.

So, how do we then calculate the value of art? Can we put a price tag on emotions? Or on a ground-breaking experience at the theatre? What about a heart wrenching book? How much is something really worth? In my opinion, it all comes down to priority. What do you spend your money on, and what motivates you to spend money on those things? Here’s a simple example; I often see people spend 12 euros on a gin & tonic. Do you reckon they are just as likely to spend the same amount on a theatre ticket?

Then the following question pops up in my head: what is a We Are Public membership really worth? What are you willing to spend? From 1 January onwards, our membership will increase slightly in price. The low VAT rate is going up which means that We Are Public will become more expensive. The VAT increase was the initial reason to raise the price, but after four years we have also seized this opportunity to redefine the value of We Are Public itself. That’s simply unavoidable, just as long as we don’t make a habit out of it like the Bitcoin.

Come 1 January 2019 a We Are Public membership will cost 17 euros a month. That is a mere 2 euros extra. That shouldn’t be a problem, right? Especially if you consider what you receive in return, surely that’s worth a lot more? I’m not just talking about the countless beautiful performances, concerts, movies and exhibitions that you can visit for free, but also the ground-breaking experiences that you are able to enjoy. Kind of like my story about Mount Eerie.

But above all, the increase in price ensures that we can continue putting our mission into practice, with the aim of taking it to the next level. We will be able to structurally invest more in the creatives and organisations that make your visits possible, and we will also invest in development: continuously improving our website, our service and we will continue building substantive collaborations with creatives. This will ensure that we have a bigger impact when it comes down to supporting those creatives, and mobilising new audiences. You will invest an extra two euros in art and culture, whilst contributing to a growing organisation that has a growing impact in more and more cities across the Netherlands. An organisation that is committed to the arts.

Four years ago, we kickstarted a small organisation with a few young and passionate individuals. Our mission was to inject sustainable and innovative impulses into the world of art and culture; in the hope of generating a bigger audience. Since then we have instigated more than 100,000 new cultural visits and distributed more than one million euros amongst a wide array of creatives and institutions. At the moment your membership is valid in 10 cities throughout the Netherlands, come January 2019 your We Are Public pass will also be valid in Utrecht. That’s yet another milestone for us!

Every month We Are Public gives you unlimited access to more than 300 insanely moving, disruptive and abrasive cultural programmes throughout the Netherlands. Visiting these programmes means supporting the cultural sector. How amazing is that?! We think that is definitely worth 17 euros. Hopefully you agree and will continue to support us by going on more cultural adventures in 2019.

Support the arts!
Or have another gin & tonic. It’s up to you.

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