Dr. Thomas Girst
Dr. Thomas Girst
Global Head of Cultural Engagement, BMW Group
BMW’s investment in cultural initiatives is long established, what are the priorities in your new partnership with Art Dubai?
As a partner of major art fairs around the world for almost two decades, we have been looking carefully at Art Dubai since its inception. It seemed that for 2018 the stars were finally aligned and that it was the perfect time for all involved to embark on a long-term partnership. Much seems to be on the move in the UAE. Just look at the gallery and design scene, the museum projects, the Sharjah Biennial, only to name a few. We consider ourselves a cultured brand so the collaboration with Art Dubai seems like a natural fit for both sides.
Why is supporting emerging artists important to BMW?
Established artists are precisely this: established. They have the funds, the time, the recognition. All factors which emerging artists might very well be lacking. This is where we come in, with half a century of experience, with hundreds of cultural initiatives worldwide, with a network and know-how.
We have no vested interest in the arts. What we do we want to do right. It would seem somewhat self-congratulatory to promote artists as successful as we like to think of ourselves as a company. We’d rather be a corporate citizen with a sense of responsibility, striving to assist younger artists in making their vision come true.
How can a thriving arts community be sustained?
Don’t rely on companies or fleeting events that do not take root. In any post-industrial society the arts are certainly an economic factor. It is crucial however that an infrastructure is in place that provides affordable studio space to artists. The teaching of the crafts, building upon tradition and heritage is key as well. Art schools, universities, exhibition spaces and shows which honour the artists and movements they represent. Great things take time.
Our little systems have their day
They have their day and cease to be
Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote.
Art is meant to last yet it is fragile. It needs to breathe and be freed of any restraints in order to thrive.