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Only 12 weeks to go until Christmas and so much could still take place until then - but not in Cologne (with the exception of Art Cologne, which is taking place and is looking forward to a dynamic collector community that is not intimidated by the general howl of crisis).
When Ms Reker took office as mayor in 2015 in the 2000-year-old city on the Rhine, she promised a lean, citizen-oriented administration committed to progress. 17,303 people were registered on the city administration's payroll as permanent staff and paid by taxpayers' money. A latent increase of about 260 additional employees was common before. At the end of 2020, the city has 21,158 employees - an increase of 3,855 in 5 years or also 22.3% - Any company would be proud of such a sales development and any Swiss citizen would be stunned if it was his municipality - but before that, the Swiss have put direct democracy where even people who want to teach in publicly funded schools are elected by the voters. (In pre-gender German this meant: teachers must be elected by the people).
Heaven knows what the employees of all sexes in Cologne are doing - the attempt to obtain a special permit for a sponsor's dinner for 250 people was in any case rejected after 14 days as follows: "19.10.22, sponsor's dinner with 250 guests: I do not have any documents for this planning which requires building permission.
An examination and possible approval is not possible in due time for the above-mentioned reasons. Even if complete and verifiable documents were available by tomorrow, only 4 weeks would remain for the necessary approval procedure."
At this point, allow me to point out that we sometimes receive requests for insurance for exhibitions with more than 100 million EUR and have to set up cover with valid insurers within 24 hours so that the lenders release their work.
But it gets even nicer when you read the reasoning at the end of the email from the city administration: "I would be pleased if, in the spirit of careful use of scarce work resources, you could in future communicate enquiries to the building inspectorate on questions of building law in a precise and coordinated manner. We are happy to provide advisory support, but in view of reduced staff due to illness and a high concentration of tasks, we would like to use this service for all applicants and in a targeted manner." Abstract - Citizens who have no idea about building law, even if it is only about the temporary rezoning of a car showroom, should not disturb the official horse whinnying. In the 1970s, Der Spiegel once drew the ire of the assembled public employees for its headline: "The civil servants are eating up the state". It's not about the efficiency of administrations - it's about the power of the staff councils, which are not democratically legitimised by the taxpayers (the new German term for civil society, or those who have nothing to say at all) but stubbornly refuse IT-supported administrative processes because this diminishes their base. What does this have to do with art? - Quite simply, "Worth Fighting for", the exhibition we have been working on with the Pinchuk Art Centre and which was to open in Cologne on 14 November, will not take place. My heartfelt thanks go to all those who have been involved and supported us so far. Their encouragement has given me the courage to tackle this project, which normally requires 18-24 months of preparation, in 7 months, including shaky financing. All donors who have transferred funds to Betterplace for the project will receive their donation back. As a consolation, if everything works out, a few works will be on show at Art Cologne - in this respect we are still bringing Venice to Cologne ...
And otherwise, Positions took place in Berlin with 88 galleries from 20 countries in Hangars 5 and 6 of Tempelhof Airport. We were allowed to support with the Best Booth award - and the winner was: Romania with two galleries: 1. Ivan Gallery from Bucharest and 2. Anca Poterasu Gallery - also from Bucharest. The range of works exhibited by all galleries was remarkable and a little ride through art history from around 1890 to the present day.
In Monte Carlo, reinsurers were together considering how to respond to inflationary trends - who's surprised? They came up with the idea that 10% more premium can compensate for the rising repair costs caused by inflation, e.g. in car insurance, through higher premiums. Is Ms von den Laymen (sorry) von der Leyen now threatening you with the capping of excess profits? Terrible word: "excess profits" - that really comes from the mothballs of the communist primordial slime around Marx and Engels. But people who can no longer remember normal work processes because they have always been allowed to eke out an existence within a public service bubble usually also don't know that profits ensure the continued existence of companies. The public service survives even without revenue, as long as there is still someone somewhere who pays taxes.
Her Majesty the Queen is to be buried in London today, and the importance of the heads of state (plural of "the head of state" - so not to be gendered) who have travelled here can be seen from whether they are driven to the ceremony in armoured limousines or by bus. Those from Germany, Austria and Switzerland are all allowed to travel by bus - that's a worthwhile contribution of the DACH region to environmental protection.
Look forward to a week of stimulating experiences around the arts and let us wish the people who are also fighting for our freedom the support they deserve to be victorious.
Yours, Stephan Zilkens and the team of Zilkens Fine Art Insurance Broker GmbH in Solothurn and Cologne