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PI Ter Apel

Percent For Art

There has been a Percent for Art ruling in operation for all Government building in the Netherlands since 1951. It came from a conviction by the Royal Netherlands Government that art is a vital part of society and that works of art improve the places where people live and work and are educational in themselves. In addition, the ruling was a way in which artists could be supported in their practice and enabled to contribute to society.

When the ruling first came into play, the kinds of 'decorations' commissioned were part of the fabric of the building and tended to be windows, mosaics, murals, reliefs and so on, and smaller moveable works such as paintings were excluded.Obviously since then, the kinds of work commissioned under Percent for Art have expanded enormously.The amount of the budget allocated to art can vary from one to two percent depending upon the size of the project.

In 1996, Percent for Art was applied to prison buildings for the first time andsince then all new prisons have to comply with the ruling. In 1994, therewas a massive expansion in prison building to create 4,000 new cells and thiscreateda huge commissioning opportunity. Because of the scale of the initiative,these were dealt with as a single large commissioning project called Cap '96.Therewas one commissioning procedure applied to all the new prisons beingbuilt at the time, in order to streamline the process and to sustain a levelof innovationin the new work across all the buildings. For Cap '96 artists were invitedto make work around the idea of freedom and no freedom, and 450 artistsresponded, of which 74 were asked to draw up ideas. These works were exhibitedin thefoyer of the Government Architect's office and from them, 40 artistswere selected to make work for a specific prison. As stimulus, they were firstgiven a suitcaseof objects, tapes, CDs, films, literature, and some artists wanted torespond to this, whilst others did not. As a result, over 70 works were madefor 16new prisons.

PI Ter Apel was built after this first wave of new prisons had been completed and was dealt with on an individual basis with site specific work being made by each of the artists.