Madelon Strijbos: ‘Don’t be afraid to ask money for your creativity’

What is the value of creativity? That is the question that Madelon Strijbos, aka Tante Netty, aka Apollonia, will be asking during CWF2019. To begin with: she cannot answer that question. But what she can do is invest in solutions to give value to creativity.

Are you concerned with the value of creativity? As an artist, social designer, grant provider or entrepreneur? Then the lectures by Madelon Strijbos during CWF2019 are a must-go for you: ‘dirty talk’ on Tuesday 22 October and ‘self-imposed poverty’ on Wednesday 23 October.

Factors that determine value

Even as a young girl, Strijbos was fascinated by the value of art. In museums, holding her parents’s hands, she would wonder why the exhibited objects were worth saving for people. You can’t eat it, it doesn’t keep your home warm … yet art does feel important. She has since gained a lot of knowledge and experience, among others as Marketing Director of TEFAF. This international art fair presents an overview of the best of no less than 7,000 years of creativity available on the market, attracting museums and wealthy private art buyers from across the globe. There, she learned which factors determine the value of art for those target groups: authenticity, condition, artistic quality, recognisability and trends.

‘Is it difficult to make a living from creativity? And if so, is that a bad thing?’

Self-imposed poverty

Strijbos: “Is it difficult to make a living from creativity? And if so, is that a bad thing? You can also look for other ways to make a living. People often complain that creativity is undervalued. As long as there are artists willing to work for €5, others simply cannot ask a lot of money for their work. That creates self-imposed poverty.”

She mentions two forms of poverty and links them to the creative industry. First, third-world poverty: there are a lot of poor people who have very little, compared to very few people who have a lot. “So there are only a few ‘superstar’ artists of world renown who earn a lot of money with their art,” says Strijbos. As a second form of poverty, she mentions welfare state poverty: it’s bloody hard for people living on benefits to get out of that situation. “It is difficult for artists and cultural institutes to extract themselves from subsidies. It’s a good thing that there are subsidies, but they also make people dependent and may prove to be an obstacle preventing them from taking matters into their own hands.”

‘Creative minds see things differently, which makes them valuable in business’


Strijbos continues: “What kind of solutions have been conceived for poverty in the third world and for people on benefits? And can we apply those solutions to the cultural sector? To enhance the self-reliance of artists, so that they do not have to rely on what others do or think? And can stand on their own two feet better. To realise that the supply – you, your work – is as much part of the market as demand. To be a supplier, aware of what your value is. I see a lot of value being lost. If you look at what kind of art has been saved most over the past 7,000 years, it is ‘commissioned work’. And what about the value of the artist themselves? Creative minds see things differently, which makes them very valuable in business.”

Long-term support

Strijbos believes it is important to consider what you need in order to do what you are doing. And do you assign it the right value? Is subsidy available to get ahead? Fine. “It would be great if that money could be used for a website to promote the work. But you are not allowed to use subsidies for this. We must get rid of this over-regulation. Make sure that subsidies offer more long-term support in the developments towards becoming more independent.”

‘Stand up for your value’

The added value of Madelon Strijbos is that she helps people determine the value of their creativity and art. In doing so, she contributes to Sustainable Development Goals number 10 (reduced inequality) and 11 (sustainable cities and communities). She does this at two levels: as Tante Netty for budding artists and as Apollonia for the established order/the business community. Tante Netty builds bridges between artists and tells them ‘Come on, I’ll do it for you’; Apollonia is an intermediary in communication and marketing and says ‘Come on, I’ll teach you’. And then there is Strijbos, who incites: “Stand up for your value, don’t be afraid to ask money for your creativity.”


Meet Madelon Strijbos at day 3 in Eindhoven >

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