Society of Arts launches with nineteen members

10 February 2014

Nineteen leading Dutch artists have been invited to become the first members of the Netherlands’ new Society of Arts. The Society of Arts will give artists a place to share ideas with professionals in other artistic and scientific disciplines. Their focus will be on the role of art in society and the relationship between science and art.

Until now, the Netherlands has not had a platform that enables individual artists to express their views. The Society of Arts, which was founded in part at the instigation of Jet Bussemaker, Minister of Education, Culture and Science, is part of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). The Society of Arts will have a provisional term of 3.5 years.

The members of the Society of Arts are:

  • Michel van der Aa, composer/director
  • Colin Benders (Kyteman), musician/composer
  • Anton Corbijn, photographer/graphic designer/filmmaker
  • Arnon Grunberg, author
  • A.F.Th. van der Heijden, author
  • Viktor Horsting, fashion designers
  • Rolf Snoeren, fashion designer
  • Francine Houben, architect
  • Janine Jansen, violinist
  • Aernout Mik, video and visual artist
  • Charlotte Mutsaers, author/visual artist
  • Ramsey Nasr, poet/writer, actor/director
  • Erwin Olaf, photographer
  • Gijs Scholten van Aschat, actor
  • Johan Simons, theatre director
  • Paul Verhoeven, film director
  • Barbara Visser, visual artist/filmmaker
  • Henny Vrienten,musician/composer
  • Jaap van Zweden, conductor/violinist

The Minister is pleased at the speed with which the Society of Arts has been established. 'Artists in every discipline will now have a platform on which to enlighten us about the value of their field and how matters stand there. This will give art the place it deserves: alongside science, in its own academy. I expect art and science to be mutually reinforcing and encouraging in the Society of Arts. After all, originality, curiosity and precision are vital in both domains. These are the traits that have made us great and that are vital as we go forward into the future.'


Artists working in literature, the fine arts, design and architecture, film, music and the performing arts in the broadest sense are eligible for membership. They must have distinguished themselves artistically, be able to connect art, science and society, serve as inspiration for other artists, and be willing to contribute to the new Society of Arts. The first set of members was nominated by the publicly funded cultural funds and by members of the Royal Academy and The Young Academy. A committee of Royal Academy members made the final selection, based on expert recommendations from the world of art and culture. Efforts were made to select members from across the artistic disciplines. From this point forward, the Society of Arts will select its own members. Their number will increase to approximately fifty in the years ahead. The official induction ceremony will take place on 23 April 2014.

The Academy and the arts

The Royal Academy has long-standing ties with the arts; for much of the nineteenth century, both artists and scientists were members of the Academy. That is still the case in such countries as Belgium, the United Kingdom, and the United States, where the Academies of Arts are clearly valuable to artists and scientists and contribute to the debate on the value of art and culture for society. There are many similarities between the work of scientists and the work of artists. Both are driven by passion, with creativity, curiosity and originality playing a crucial role. The Society of Arts will help restore the relationship between science and art, for example by organising meetings, engaging in debates and supporting collaboration between artists and scientists.

For more information:

Note for press representatives:

For more information: Irene van Houten, Academy spokesperson, +31 20 551 0733, +31 6 1137 5909,

Job Slok, Minister Bussemaker’s spokesperson, +31 70 412 3751, +31 6 5325 5266,