Artists can make a political statement by giving away prize money and grants. When artists don’t need the money to support to meet their basic needs in life, should they give it away? Who gets the money? Many artist trusts don’t even ask applicants to disclose their gender or race on granting application forms. Are awards supposed to support poor artists? Should artists who keep the money for themselves be made to feel guilty. When an artist gives the money he/she is granted away can the institution that gave it stop him/her from doing that. Here some examples;
Anish Kapoor won the Genesis Prize Laureate and promised to give away the $1 million award to the humanitarian crisis in Syria. The prize is annually awarded to someone who has made a significant contribution to Jewish politics and culture. Kapoor was born in Mumbai to a Jewish Bhagdadi mother and Hindu father and lives in the UK.
Turner prize winner Helen Marten will share the £25,000 award with her fellow nominees. She did the same a few weeks earlier when she won the £30,000 Hepworth Prize for Sculpture. “I don’t feel I need to politicize that gesture,” she said. “I can do it quietly.”
Anouk Kruithof won 1,500 euros with the audience award from a Dutch newspaper. She chose to give it away to the charities Doctors Without Borders, Greenpeace and The UN Refugee Agency. “These are tumultuous times, with everything that is happening in the world.” She gives the money away to people “who have a greater need.” She thinks it’s “a lovely idea that the people who voted for her also make a contribution to charity, this way.”
In 2014 Steve Lambert said he would donate any potential winnings to the LGBT Fund of Grand Rapids as a political statement. He was in line to possibly win the $200,000 juried grand prize but had vowed to give away any potential award to the gay and lesbian organization. Lambert criticized Betsy DeVos family contribution to the prize money for the competition.
In 2015 Joshua Schwebel paid the interns with his Berlin residency grant. His presentation consisted of an office space containing a desk, mail slots, and an intern—paid by Schwebel’s exhibition budget.
Russian performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky was stripped of the Havel Prize ($42,000). He wanted to give it to a businessman who promised to fund a Russian group whose members have been convicted of killing policemen.