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.