1. What was the budget of the exhibition Low Budget Monuments and who secured the funding? What legal norms one has to respect in the production of the exhibition? Are there costs which are not eligible for the state funding? If so, how were they covered?


2. Do the participating artists, the curator and commissar of the exhibition receive fees from the Ministry of Culture for the realization of the project? If they do, what per cent of the total budget do these represent?


3. How have you collaborated with the Ministry of Culture and with the Romanian Cultural Institute in Venice?

1. The budget is 280.500 RON, plus the reimbursement until the end of November of travel and per diems for the pavillion stewards (this edition being the longest until now).

Immediately after winning the competition, we elaborated the budget of the exhibition, structured on budget categories according to the necessities of the exhibition, whether these could match or not in the categories accepted by the Ministry. We therefore started from a real situation, which we protected as much as we could, not willing to cut anything.

So we arrived, following negotiations with the financial and juridical departments of the Ministry of Culture (and with the support of Monica Morariu and the final ok of Virgil Nitulescu), at the contract for intellectual property.


I would say there are two new and good things which we brought as possible changes in the structure of the organization of the Romanian pavillion at the Biennale:

a) “traditionally”, the curator applies for the competition, he(she) then signs the contract with the Ministry, this being a first trap, let’s call it this way, as the following step is the negotiation of the budget, which takes time and is an extenuating process. You’re actually fighting with a set of internal rules of the Ministry, which you don’t know and which, sometimes, is far away from the needs of the exhibition. The curator, responsible rather for the conceptual coherence of the exhibition and for the way in which he situates the artists in a well-articulated context of thinking, awakens thus in a situation which was not generated by him/her, even if he/she is also most of the times the manager of the project (in our case, Mihnea Mircan was coming with the experience of the museum curator).
The organization and effective administration of the exhibition (here we mean a lot of thins, from the transport of the works to the team who renovates the room, gathering the garbage etc., to the production of the works, invites and publication etc.) are the attributions of the commissar and his team. As I already mentioned, even only the negotiation with the Ministry for the budget and the modality of work with this money represent a time eating process, which it is still the commissar who has to lead.

The fact that the proposal was made by Plan B – an institution of production - , I think is a good precedent, as long as an exhibition is more a concept with good works: it’s a structure, a frame, which, if it’s not working administratively, will compromise the initial project. Unfortunately, too many times the capacity for organization and installation of the show was not taken into consideration at the selection, thus making an interesting concept turn into a weakened exhibition…

b) This being an exhibition in a tourist city in which you move with difficulty (on the water) and cannot find much of the things necessary for building the exhibition, the freedom to organize your own budget is essential. The classical bureaucratic procedures slow down and complicate to exasperation the organization of the exhibition, forcing you to modify and cut from the project until no longer identifying it as your own. Again, I’m persuaded that in the project stage many of Romania’s pavilions were better and more inciting (maybe ours as well…), losing energy in the institutionalized maze of the organization; that’s why we negotiated with the Ministry a contract which can allow us to relate the money received to the needs of the project, not to the rules of the local bureaucracy, which anyway didn’t sufficiently integrate the real needs of a contemporary art show (thus, sometimes you have to call with a different name budget categories which are absolutely necessary to the exhibition, as they don’t kiss the ones accepted by the Ministry). That’s how we agreed to have an intellectual property contract, which means the Ministry bought from Plan B Foundation a cultural good – the concept of the exhibition.


The good things, in this case, are that we could work as we wished, hiring the most convenient workers team, that we could make contracts in Venice, we printed the publication in Amsterdam, etc., thus avoiding the old story with materials bought and transported from Romania to Venice, bringing Romanian workers, all the things which swallowed a lot of money, nerves and energy at the previous editions.
The bad things are the tax which the foundation pays for the money received, the big volume of accountancy transferred to the foundation and, in the specific case of Plan B Foundation, the fact that, once we received the budget we stepped beyond the admitted threshold of 35000 EUR, becoming VTA payers. All together, I think the freedom to work with the budget offered by this type of contract deserves to be kept also by the ones who will organize in the future the exhibition in the pavilion. It was difficult to make the people at the financial and juridical departments of the Ministry to understand that they are paying a lot of money to buy an exhibition concept, and not some physical, palpable objects. However, we succeeded and this looks like a gain.

2. For the moment we haven’t paid the fees of the artists, the curator and those who made the core of the organization, including the commissar and the vice-commissar. If at the end, after dismantling the exhibition and transporting the works back (after the experience of installing the exhibition I would say that its dismantling could bring surprises and unpredicted costs), there is any money left, we’ll pay the participants. It was a common agreement, taken from the beginning, not to have claims in this respect, even if it is natural that everyone’s work is rewarded according to the representativity of the context where we are. Still, the collaborators were paid – for example those who wrote for the publication of the pavilion, which has new texts, especially conceived for this context.


3. Generally, we had a good relationship with both institutions; the problem is that the Ministry and ICR do not have a protocol which could be a foundation for those who organize the exhibition in Venice, and this is noticeable…

In fact, in all this business there are four institutions involved, which don’t have much in common and which are ready to assume or to decline randomly attributions as to the exhibition and the pavilion. The Ministry of Culture is the financing authority, but the pavilion belongs to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, ICR in Venice is its administrator in place, but the director of ICR Venice is named traditionally by the Romanian Academy…, and these institutions do now always kiss each other…


Mihai Pop