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Maecenas distinction 2023 for Monika Schnetkamp

On 7 November 2023 – in recognition of her outstanding commitment to contemporary art and culture – entrepreneur and patroness Monika Schnetkamp was honoured with the Maecenas distinction by the Arbeitskreis selbständiger Kultur-Institute e.V. The ceremony took place in the presence of some 100 invited guests at KAI 10 I ARTHENA FOUNDATION, the art institution which she created at Düsseldorf’s Medienhafen. The laudatory address was delivered by Prof. Peter Gorschlüter, director of the Museum Folkwang in Essen.

Monika Schnetkamp founded the non-profit Arthena Foundation which operates the KAI 10 exhibition space at Düsseldorf’s Medienhafen in 2008. This non-commercial, public art institution promotes contemporary art by providing young artists with 600 square meters of exhibition space. Inspired by the Greek goddess Athena (goddess of culture and science), KAI 10 I ARTHENA FOUNDATION perceives itself as a link between art and science. Until now, more than 250 artists have shown their work to the public at this venue. Since its foundation, 15 years ago, KAI 10 has presented thematic group exhibitions conceived as a place of encounter with contemporary art. Access is free of charge. KAI 10 also offers an extensive programme of evening film screenings, panel discussions, lectures, and guided tours. In 2013, the institution participated in the 55th Venice Biennale with the artist Thomas Zipp. Lately, the foundation has started a publications’ grant programme for artists. Monika Schnetkamp is on the board of trustees of the Kunststiftung NRW, the Senate of the Lower Saxony Foundation, and the Music Committee of the Kulturkreis der deutschen Wirtschaft im BDI e.V. She is also member of the board of the Dr. Hildegard Schnetkamp Foundation, specifically dedicated to the promotion of young musical talents.

Prof. Dr. Thomas Sternberg, president of the Kunststiftung NRW:

"The Kunststiftung NRW is delighted that Monika Schnetkamp, a member of its board of trustees, is being honoured with this distinction. As entrepreneur and founder of the Arthena Foundation, she follows in the tradition of the great patrons who established North Rhine-Westphalia’s cultural prosperity, making it the principal post-war Land to support modern art. KAI 10, located in Düsseldorf’s port district, offers carefully curated, exciting and free of charge exhibitions with accompanying programmes: this is a civic and charitable commitment that is rightly honoured with the Maecenas distinction."

Prof. Peter Gorschlüter, Director of the Museum Folkwang:

“While many art patrons focus on their own collection when they go public, Monika Schnetkamp made a different decision 15 years ago: altruistic, with a flair for innovation, and full of entrepreneurial spirit. With KAI 10, she conceived in 2008 a new type of institution, a first in Germany, dedicated to contemporary developments in art, society, and science in broad thematic exhibitions. Schnetkamp’s patronage is by far not only limited to the visual arts, but also encompasses music and other arts. Today, she is not only a personality who promotes the arts and cultural education, but has herself become a trusted partner to many artists.”

Monika Schnetkamp:

“As an entrepreneur, I see private enterprise as an activity that involves social responsibility and, I correspondingly wish to give something back to society. The use of private funds for social benefit is important to me. Art is a lifelong passion of mine, which is why it is a heartfelt concern to engage with and promote contemporary art by supporting artists in their development. This is the reason for which, 15 years ago, I founded the non-profit Arthena Foundation for the promotion of art, which with its institution KAI 10 runs a sophisticated program at Düsseldorf’s Medienhafen to the benefit of the common good.”

“I deliberately chose Düsseldorf as a location. We have a high density and strong network of institutes for contemporary art, many artists live and work here, and the celebrated art academy attracts students from all over the world. Beyond that, the city has a long tradition in the promotion of art and culture. I wanted to build on this tradition.”

“For me, the Maecenas distinction 2023 is a great recognition of my commitment to contemporary art and culture and of my work through the last 15 years. I am most grateful to have been honoured with it.”

The musical programme was performed by Lila Chrisp (mezzo-soprano), winner of the music competition of the Kulturkreis der deutschen Wirtschaft im Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie (BDI / Federation of German Industries) e.V., and Hamish Brown (piano).

From 1989 onward, the AsKI (Association of Independent Cultural Institutions) has awarded the unendowed Maecenas distinction for outstanding contemporary patronage to personalities whose achievements in the promotion of art and culture have been of exceptional significance. The laureates are selected by an independent jury. The Maecenas distinction is coupled with the presentation of the bronze sculpture Nike by sculptor Manfred Sihle-Wissel. Well-known previous laureates include: Karin and Uwe Hollweg, Paul Sacher, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Dr. Arend Oetker, and Sylvia and Friedrich von Metzler. The AsKI is an association of 39 nationally and internationally renowned independent cultural institutes that are highly relevant to the quality and diversity of cultural life in Germany. The AsKI also sponsors Germany’s only museum abroad, the Casa di Goethe in Rome. It is funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.


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