In early February, the annual Art Rotterdam took place in a rainy Rotterdam. This fair and all surrounding events - such as the Raw Art Fair, Prospects & Concepts and Fitax1000 - attracted a record number of visitors (42,000 in total) from home and abroad. And many buyers. Interest and appreciation for art is of all times, all walks of life and manifests itself in all parts of the world. Think of the activities tourists undertake when staying in a foreign city; these usually include museum visits.

But also closer to home, in the Netherlands, there is a lot of interest in art: museum attendance - despite budget cuts and crisis - has been unprecedentedly high in recent years. From this you can derive an appreciation for art. And, as research by the Stichting Kunstweek showed, people in the Netherlands collect art enthusiastically - especially economists, lawyers and doctors, by the way. They do so not only to invest, but also with a genuine appreciation for art.

Appreciation everywhere! That should automatically make the artist's profession an honorable one. And artists will be people with authority, people who are listened to, who have something to say and something to mean in our world. Recently, a small number of artists in the Netherlands were chosen as members of the Academy of Arts to exchange ideas with each other and to express themselves about, among other things, the function of art in society. Nineteen artists were recruited from the nationally and internationally known segment of artists that our country has. This is how it goes and it is understandable.

There are, of course, more voices, more opinions and views worth having. In recent years, platforms, forums and weblogs have emerged where artists make themselves heard and are heard. And artists are increasingly being asked to contribute to serious societal, economic and social challenges.

Indeed, appreciation for art and artists seems to be manifesting itself more often and more strongly. Beautiful!

Unfortunately, at the same time, artists still constitute the worst-earning professional group in the Netherlands. There are, of course, many more artists than those who have found themselves in the spotlight. And most of them work diligently in the shadows. They often invest heavily - socially, economically, socially and personally - to enable themselves to create art. These artists also do meaningful and honorable work and deserve appreciation for it.

A not insignificant form of appreciation for art and artists is made visible from politics. This appreciation is indirectly an expression of the opinion of ourselves: the voting people.

Soon we will be allowed to make our voices heard again: on March 19 for the municipal elections (most of us). In May, it will be Europe's turn.

As you color the circle or press the button, think for a moment about "appreciation. Appreciation for art and for the artist. Which party do you end up with?

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