Chloe Bass, Trainings for the Not-Yet (2
Chloe Bass, Trainings for the Not-Yet (2019-2020), exhibition view, BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht, picture: Tom Janssen
6 June 2024
BAK is a crucial basis in the cultural ecosystem of Utrecht!

With shock and disbelief we have received the news that Raad voor Cultuur (Council for Culture) has advised the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science to stop funding BAK, basis voor actuele kunst for the period 2025–2028.

With shock and disbelief we have received the news that Raad voor Cultuur (Council for Culture) has advised the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science to stop funding BAK, basis voor actuele kunst for the period 2025–2028. This comes on top of Utrecht municipality's decision to withdraw their subsidy. At this incredibly sad moment, we draw strength from how, over the past 25 years, BAK has become the global art institution—by and with others—for groundbreaking artistic practice, theory, and social engagement. Thousands of messages of support we have received in recent weeks tell this story.

Especially now, in times of worrying political developments in our society, advisory committees of the progressive Utrecht City Council and Raad voor Cultuur should support important democratic cultural institutions like BAK. This decision means that countless people and communities in Utrecht, the Netherlands, and internationally—artists, pupils and students, as well as a rich diversity of cultural actors, vulnerable groups, and general audiences—lose a basis for imagining and shaping the world differently. We will do all we can to continue protecting such a base.

On 26 June 2024, we received word that the council of mayor and aldermen of Utrecht adopted the advice of the Advisory Committee Culture Note 2025-2028 in its entirety. This decision will end the multi-year subsidy to BAK. This decision represents a serious threat to BAK's existence as a base for artists, critical cultural players, and the many communities in Utrecht and beyond that are part of it. Consequently, the city of Utrecht will lose a crucial platform for collective imagination, experimentation, and education, which works towards a just future for all. Read BAK's statement below and follow, read, listen, watch, and write along to the rapidly growing solidarity archive consisting of thousands of testimonies, statements of support, and stories.

With shock and disbelief we received the report Kleur bekennen (Taking a stance) from the Utrecht Advisory Committee on the Culture Memorandum 2025–2028. The report proposes that BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht, should not be financed in the coming years. This is a devastating blow for BAK, a base that for 24 years has been committed to providing the city of Utrecht with a unique space where art, knowledge, and social action come together in ever-innovative ways. This news also deeply affects even more so all of the artists and other cultural players with whom BAK works, as well as a rich diversity of communities in Utrecht and beyond with whom we exchange and collaborate intensively: from vulnerable communities to the general public; from the community kitchen network to local and international postgraduate fellows; from the students of art academies and universities (including HKU University of the Arts and Utrecht University) to high school students; and from grassroots organizations to established cultural institutions.

BAK is a socially driven cultural institution, but also the only post-academic institution in Utrecht. Amsterdam has Rijksakademie and De Ateliers, Maastricht has Jan van Eyck Academie – and Utrecht has BAK. In the Netherlands, BAK uniquely combines the functions of presentation and post-academy. This offers a distinct opportunity for talent development, as well as the bringing together of the local and the (inter)national in the city of Utrecht. BAK is a place where art’s ability to dream collectively is nourished in order to shape a better world together. We do this through public programming in the form of meetings about urgent issues affecting the city and beyond, and exhibitions, seminars, and performances. We do this through research into social and ecological themes, through the production of new works of art, through the development of new talent, and through education.

The advice recognizes the high artistic quality of BAK’s practice and describes this as “consistent and artistically strong.” The results continue to “seep through into the broader cultural field, both in Utrecht, nationally and internationally.” The advice also values ​​“an intensive relationship with makers and visitors,” as well as “the way in which BAK connects an interesting international network with a solid local network.” In summary, the committee appreciates BAK’s function as a crucial hub, appreciates its thematic depth, the way in which complex content is made accessible to a broader audience, and all of our efforts to integrate social themes into both the program and business operations. It is therefore incomprehensible that the same advice, mere sentences after praising the local network and connections in the city, concludes that there is insufficient exchange with other players in the cultural field, and that the contribution to this ecosystem is considered limited.

The conclusion to not finance BAK is therefore worrying and alarming, not only for us but especially for the city. Particularly when you consider that Utrecht is and wants to be a progressive haven, with policymakers who to this day welcome, support, and protect innovative forms of participatory, social art practices. This is of great importance in times of growing populism and world conflicts, and it is crucial to counter the political misconception that culture is only entertainment or “daytime recreation.” It is incomprehensible how, with a stroke of the pen, the city of Utrecht wants to demolish part of its own progressive cultural infrastructure that it has helped to build over the past decades.

In this context, we also find it shocking to read how Utrecht particularly marginalizes and underfunds the field of visual arts compared to other art disciplinesAccording to this advice, of the total budget available for culture in Utrecht in 2025–2028 , only 1,61% (!) is dedicated to the contemporary (visual) art institutions. In 2021–2024 it was 6,7% of the total budget.. At BAK we argue for the recognition of visual art and its infrastructure as a crucial component for Utrecht that aspires to be a “healthy city of and for everyone.” We are therefore concerned that other institutions, such as IMPAKT (Centre for Media Culture), are also not supported.

These past days, we have received an extraordinary amount of support from our partner organizations, artists, colleagues, friends, self-organized collectives, and the general public about the importance of BAK for the city and its cultural ecosystem – locally, nationally, and internationally. While we draw strength from this support, we will convince Utrecht that we need art institutions like BAK. We need each other, more than ever.

Team BAK
Utrecht, 6 June 2024

Read the full advice by the Gemeente Utrecht in English

Lees het volledige advies van de Gemeente Utrecht in het Nederlands


The future of the cultural ecosystem of Utrecht

Please read the joint letter with comments and a request to the Advisory Committee's opinion regarding the 2025-202 Culture Note by:

NFF - Marjolijn Bronkhuyzen - Business Manager-Director
Tweetakt - Petra Blok - Managing Director
IMPAKT - Arjon Dunnewind - Managing Director
BAK - Maria Hlavajova - Artistic Director-Manager

The future of the cultural ecosystem of Utrecht


Urgent letter: don't wipe out visual arts from Utrecht

This urgent letter has been signed by the members of Hedendaags Kunst Overleg (HeKO), Utrecht Beeldcultuur Overleg (UBCO) and various other important Utrecht organizations.

In addition to BAK, these are: Academy Gallery – HKU, Art Utrecht, Casco Art Institute, Centraal Museum, Creative Coding Utrecht, Stichting Das Spectrum, De Nijverheid, EXBunker & EXBoot, Filmtheater ’t Hoogt, FOTODOK, Galerie Sanaa, HKU, Executive Board, IMPAKT, Kaboom Animation Festival, Kapitaal Utrecht, Kunsthal Kloof, Kunstliefde, Kunstuitleen Utrecht, Landhuis Oud Amelisweerd, Lucrative Dumpster Dives, Moving Gallery, Nederlands Film Festival, OP&Projectspace Lokaal, RAUM, SETUP, UNCLOUD.


Please send us a brief solidarity message to that explains what participating at BAK has meant to you. We accept any format: voice notes, phone videos, texts, pictures with captions. For audiovisual content, 1 min. (or less) is more than enough.

What value has BAK and its program added to you, to your collectives, to your practice? Why should a city like Utrecht not do without a place like BAK?

By responding to this call-to-action with your solidarity message, you understand and consent to your story being made public. Our goal is to share as many stories of solidarity as possible on our website, directly to our local politicians, and other channels. Do keep this in mind.

Your time is valuable. We appreciate your attention. We would be grateful for your support. Please read the responses we have already received here.

Responses to our Solidarity Call Out