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92 | Do Good Stuff While You’re Here

For twenty years, the Prince Claus Fund and the Prince Claus Award has supported cultural development and practice in Latin America, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Eastern Europe. The Fund supports artists and practitioners from many different fields, ranging from artists, to architects and cartoonists. Their annual award has consistently drawn attention to emerging and progressive social designs and cultural activists. Moreover, the Fund has pioneered the practice of protecting cultural heritage by providing ‘first aid’ to rescue heritage threatened by man-made or natural disasters.

92 | Do Good Stuff While You’re Here

Els van der Plas was at the helm from the Fund’s inception until 2004. She was trained as an art historian, and prior to her work at the Prince Claus Fund, she founded and ran the Gate Foundation to encourage intercultural exchange in the field of modern and contemporary visual art. Throughout her career, Els has been a forceful global advocate for the role of design and beauty as an essential element of daily human life – and not just a luxury for high-class consumption.

She spearheaded the Fund’s early direction and initiatives, including the highly regarded the Cultural Emergency Response fund, which saved the Baghdad Central Library after the American invasion.

She was a member of the Supervisory Board of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (2004-2009) and the Supervisory Board of the Museum of Bags and Purses, as well as a member of the juries of the Curry Stone Design Prize in New York (2008) and the Princess Margriet Award (2011 – 2014). She is the Recommending Committee of the Holland Dance Festival (The Hague) and the What Design Can Do conference, in Amsterdam. She currently holds the position of chairman of the Johannes Vermeer Prize (since 2017), is a member of the Supervisory Board of Codarts and a member of the Advisory Council of NWO.

We had an opportunity to speak with Els on Social Design Insights. Have a listen below.


Social Design Insights would like to thank all those who make our weekly show possible: Baruch Zeichner, our Producer and Sound Engineer, Donna Read, for producing our video content, and Leah Freidenrich, Director of the Curry Stone Foundation. Our theme music for 2018 is "Alright With Me" by Reggie Young from his album "Young Street." The break music for this episode is "We beginnen pas" by De Dijk from their album "We beginnen pas."