Posted on Saturday, 14 April
Review, May/June 2002
In late February 2002, Kansas City Artists Coalition learned that it was one of nine organizations in the nation to be awarded a $100,000 Warhol Initiative capital infusion grant. Not long after, Review writer Marcus Cain sat down with KCAC Director Janet Simpson to discuss the history and future of the longstanding Artists Coalition.
Marcus Cain: Could you give us a brief history of your professional background and how you became involved with the Kansas City Artists Coalition?
Janet Simpson: The Artists Coalition started in 1975. People started coming together because there were very few opportunities for artists in the city at that time, and people felt like there was a reason to band together. I think a lot of it did come from the kind of energy that was generated from the Student Movement, where people really wanted to be self-directed. A lot of artists were not finding a home in commercial galleries because Kansas City did not have many commercial galleries.
MC: Did the city have any major ones at that time?
JS: It did have a few. My professional life as an artist started in 1978, when I moved back here after graduate school, and there were a few then.
MC: Where did you go to school?
JS: I went to KU for a BFA in painting and Ohio University for a Masters Degree in painting. My career goal at the time was to be a teacher, hopefully at the university level, which I did for quite a long time at Kansas City, Kansas Community College; Johnson County Community College; and Park University. But I never found that elusive full-time tenure tract gig. So I decided to take about a year off and just really get into my own work. I had the luxury of doing that financially. Then, maybe fatal mistake, I came on the Board here at the Artists Coalition…
That would have been about 1989. The person who had been the Executive Director had resigned and the board that had been working with the Coalition had also either ended their time commitment or resigned. So we were like a clean slate. It was a very odd time because the Coalition had almost decided to close. This was really inexplicable because there was good grant money still available and our space here is donated. I came on as Secretary of the Board and, because there was no one here to give me any sort of history or background, I essentially went through files, any kind of records, and even old bank statements so that 1 could piece it all together. One of the other things 1 did, because, ironically, I had time off from “work,” was to reinstate all the exhibitions that had been canceled. Luckily, I was able to do that. We met with the Missouri Arts Council and told them that we did want our program, and they were happy and pleased to see that we were trying to keep things going…
MC: So it sounds like the light was going out there quite literally?
JS: Yes. And there didn’t seem to be any reason for it except for what I assume were some personality issues, though I don’t know what the whole thing was. Anyway, we got it all back up and running. Everyone kind of looked at me and said, “Why don’t you do this job?” I said, “Well actually I think I could do this job, but I want to see.” I took it as an interim position. That lasted maybe six or seven months, then, I decided that I could do it. I came on full time in 1990 and it has been on the job training for me ever since. I came with a real passion for the visual arts. Then I developed a really strong interest in how an organization like this could benefit local artists. In looking around, it was clear that there were a lot of really great people in our city, and I had traveled enough to know that it would compare very favorably to other places … I was really able to embrace the mission of the Coalition, which is that you support visual arts in general, in the broadest sense of the word, and then you also support artists’ work. To me, these two things just went together. Our main focus continues to be exhibitions, as it has been ever since we got our first space. We started in 1975, incorporated in 1976, and for the first six or seven years the organization was mainly an advocacy group and a support group. We did a publication, which we still do, called Forum, which reviewed local artists and talked about what was going on in Kansas City. It had articles of benefit to artists about how to manage their career and things like that.
We got our first space, at 7th and Central, in 1983. That is when we first started showing work. I was there because had become a member when I came back from Ohio in 1978. I was at one of the very first events there and it was just packed with people, lots of energy. It was clear that people really wanted a way to interact with other artists and that it was a real need. We stayed in that space not too long, maybe a year or so, then moved down to the space that is now D’Bronx at 39th and Bell for about a year or two.
MC: Were these all donated spaces at this time?
JS: No. I think the one at 7th and Central had a patron who had said “We’ll pay the rent for a year,” and they probably just fundraised to pay the rent at the Bell location. During this time, we started our auction as a fundraiser for the organization. Then our current space (at 201 Delaware) became open. We moved here in October of 1986. The landlord gave us what is now called Mallin Gallery? It is our main gallery and at that time was our only gallery. In 1990, he also gave us the basement galley. Then, in 1995, we had a patron who gave us money to rent the other smaller gallery on the main floor. We can now program these three galleries separately or together, which allows a lot of flexibility.
MC: Is there some model for what you have set up that you could point to, which exists in some other city, maybe one similar in size to our art community, like the nearby Art St. Louis? I am curious if you are aware of other organizations that have evolved simultaneously and that you may have drawn influence from, or vice-versa?
JS: There have been artist-run organizations for years and there are some, which are like 100 years old, based out of places like New York and Chicago.
MC: I guess it would be kind of like how the Kansas City Art Institute started, where artists came together and began creating classes. It’s like there are different paths this could take…whether it evolves into a university or a private college or something like a coalition, which seems more accessible to the general public in a contemporary context.
JS: What is really interesting is that in the 70s a lot of organizations, maybe hundreds, formed across the country. There was this whole artist-run, artist-centered organization movement. It wasn’t so much that people were looking at what had been done historically. It was more like, “What are we doing now?” There were some people here who were aware of that and had meetings where people would go to talk about what these kinds of organization could be, should be, that kind of thing. It was kind of organic…
MC: So it wasn’t this calculated thing like, “Okay, now we are going to transplant this idea here and see how the community responds”
JS: Right, because I think the older organizations that I was talking about, the ones that were really old, were probably seen as way too stuffy and probably had really established rules like some of them had a process where people first had to be selected to really be a member …
Because of this, the Coalition and many of our sister organizations are very inclusive in how we consider artists. Anyone can be a member. You simply have to pay a fee.
MC: So how many members does the Coalition have?
JS: We have exactly 538. The reason I know this is because we now have a really good data base system. The new software has really been great at keeping track of people.
It was a really exciting time before though — being self-directed and self-initiated. There was still that need of a type of space that wasn’t for commercially viable work. During that time you had a lot of happenings and installations — there was no way most galleries could afford to have those if they needed to make money in order to pay their rent. Incorporating as a not-for-profit opened us up to grant money during a time when the NEA was still very new, probably less than ten years old. Organizations like us were eligible for grants from them at a time when things were more open. And the Missouri Arts Council was started at that time, which is the second oldest arts council in the nation.
MC: I would guess to most people that would seem unusual, for our state to have the second oldest arts council. It’s actually quite amazing.
JS: It is amazing. There was everything happening in our government, with agencies being developed to support artists. You had the local government agencies who wanted to support art, so there was just a lot more support. Then organizations like the Coalition started another national organization called the National Association of Artist Run Organizations. We are a member and will continue to be a member of that. I have been on the hoard of that organization. It is basically an advocacy organization that has conferences about every other year, so we can get together and learn what other people are doing. It is often a great way to exchange ideas.
MC: So you have a really supportive national network that informs you beyond your local and regional resources?
JS: Yes. It used to be hugely important but now that the Internet is so much more viable you can really do a lot of networking (online) that wasn’t available even a few years ago.
It is still great to get together with people and see how they are doing, though. During the 90’s, which were really hard on organizations like ours, we had two sister organizations in Chicago, which both failed just recently. There is a difficulty in going from an organization of all volunteers to an organization that has staff; from an organization that is always kind of seat-of-your-pants into one that is more established. It’s like growing pains in a way. There is a lot of ebb and flow. There consistently tends to be around 200 organizations across the country but they’re different; they’re not the same 200 every time. We are actually one of the oldest from that 70s wave of development.
MC: Do you have any members who date back that far that are still involved?
JS: We do and they are still involved. I am just amazed that the organization has grown and changed while these people have maintained membership
MC: Do you see the demographics changing in the membership pool?
JS: They seem to be getting younger. It seems that when people first get out of school they are involved in getting their lives together, though they may be aware of us because of the college student show we’ve done now for about seven years. We tend to start getting people after they are finished being busy with other parts of their lives and are ready to get things straightened out.
MC: You mean after they get over the initial shock of trying to manage their student loans and are able to pull themselves together?
JS: Exactly. We tend to get people later in their twenties, after they have been out of school for awhile. Sometimes they will then go off and get involved with other careers. Later, we get them hack.
MC: I would imagine you also get a certain number of people who are new to Kansas City. The Coalition seems like a somewhat natural place for them to come with the hope of finding an immediate local network.
JS: We get a lot of people who are new to the city. And we get calls from all over, which is one reason we updated our database — because people are calling us all the time. If they want to find an artist in Kansas City living here now, or a long time ago, they call us. The new software allows us to retain a lot of additional information about the artist in addition to just their address, and allows us to keep historical data, which is something we have not been able to do before. We saw this as areal need.
MC: I can see where there would be a need to archive that information, so someone could track a person’s career or maybe contact someone for a professional job opportunity or commission.
JS: Or if they have a piece of artwork and the person who they got it from is no longer available to them. We really encourage artists to let us know where they are if only for that reason. We actually serve more artists than are members. There are about another 1600 artists in the city who are in our database and those people will get certain mailings about artist opportunities and things like that. This is part of our larger mission — to let these artists know about opportunities as they come about.
MC: When you’re organizing your exhibition schedules and deciding on who you are going to show, how is that structured? I assume there are some specific membership shows and then exhibitions for artists who are not necessarily members?
JS: Our three galleries certainly give us a lot of flexibility. For a couple reasons we decided the lower gallery would be exclusively members’ space. One, because we have an interest and a need for doing that, and two, because, since it is located downstairs and is inaccessible directly from the outside, it is ineligible for any kind of grant money. We would have to put in an elevator or something different to make it eligible, hut we decided not to do that because government grants don’t want to cover things that are strictly for members. Exhibitions are the main thing people want, so we have kept that as exclusively a member’s gallery. All members can get a show down there All we do is decide when and sometimes put them together with other people.
MC: Do you think this money is not available because the government sees it as helping specific individual members rather than the general public?
JS: I think it has to do with associations. I don’t really know totally what the rationale is except that it would be excluding some people. They can’t buy into it because their money has to go to things that are open for everybody. Our two main floor galleries are eligible for funding, although not every exhibition has government funding behind it.
The way we program these two galleries is to put out a national call for artists. We advertise this in magazines like Art in America and we send it out to all the arts councils. Any artist in the nation can apply. Then we put together a committee made up of artists and some board members. I sit on that committee and this is held in September of every year. Once the proposals are here we go through them all and we are really looking for the most compelling. The only thing that limits people, and one of the hardest things to get money for, is travel and shipping expenses. Because of this, and by default, a lot of our exhibitions are from regional and local people. We have shown artists from as far away as Latvia, and we have shown artists from Canada, New York, and California. If an artist is able to get the work to us we are happy to show it, but it is typically more from the Midwest region.
We do feel really good about this because people in the Midwest sometimes do have fewer opportunities. This is a way for them to get their name out, because we do have this national affiliation and people are aware of what is going on here. Our reputation nationally and within our organization now is really high.
MC: Do you think there are misconceptions the local community might have about your organization with regards to this? Do you think the local community is up to speed on where you guys are at on a national level?
JS: Many people are. But sometimes people only interact with you at one point and don’t think there is more to it. I don’t think everyone is aware of this larger network and association we are apart of. People get caught up in their own things. We also have to keep remembering to tell “the story.” I know the story by heart and sometimes I forget that some people don’t know, and don’t realize If I wanted to find out how to set up a cooperative artists living space, I know a dozen people who I could call because of this other organization we are a member of. If we want to start a new program, it’s easy for me to find out what other people have done.
One good example of this is the Warhol Initiative money. We are looking at the best use of those funds and there are a couple of things we are considering. We haves strong interest in outing some of that money in our endowment so that it will keep sustaining the organization. That is one of the goals of the Warhol Initiative. We are also looking at the possibility of starting a re-granting program, where we would use some of that money as seed money to try to generate local funds that artists could apply for, as money that would keep them working. We are lucky to have other grants in the city to support artists just on the basis of their body of work. But we are also aware that artists are limited because there are no funds for specific things like travel expenses, or money for shipping, or maybe just getting work framed for an exhibit, or for materials, which can also be costly, just to get a body of work together. There are a lot of reasons why an artist could use a few hundred bucks.
We do have programs for people who are trying to get a handle on what it means to have a career in art. We have a slide-taking workshop, a marketing workshop, an accounting and contracts workshop, a shipping workshop, and a variety of writing workshops on grants and resumes. There is a point, however, when you get all that, and so this would be an opportunity for us to help those who have handle on their career but may need help in order to make that happen we are strongly looking at the possibility of creating some kind of working grants program, which the Warhol money as seed money. If we do that, we will do it by borrowing (the structure) heavily from an organization in Washington State called Artists Trust. It is really great organization that was started specifically to give money to artists to work.
MC: That sounds like a beautiful thing.
JS: Yes it is. They help artists in Washington State in all art forms although we would keep it focused to visual arts. They have been doing this now for almost fifteen years. I have access to them and can learn from these people who have many years of experience. I think our city could benefit, because we have nothing really like that here.
MC: Well, individuals and businesses have been doing that here providing money to artists, like Charlotte Street Fund. How is this so different?
JS: You can’t apply for that. This is different because it is something anyone can apply for. A lot of times you don’t really know who is in need. In this way our program would different focus that the Charlotte Street.
MC: So people in need will come to you and identify themselves?
JS: Yes. Looking over the years at what the Artists Trust has done, they do have criteria. You have to possess some track record as an artist in order to qualify and that just makes sense.
Beyond this sort of program, we are also looking at doing more publishing. We have done Forum for many years and we see this as one area of publishing that will continue to allow us to get the word out nationally. We also did a book in 200 called Show + Tell, which was part of our Open Studios event. That has been very valuable because it has a shelf life. We will be doing another one this year in full color. This represents a great way in which artists can get published. You may cease to exist, but your work is represented in a book somewhere.
MC: I think that is one of every artist’s ultimate goals, because you want the work to be accessible beyond those who you have the ability to show it to, or who your gallery has the ability to sell it to. It is no different than the way in which a writer would want to have story or book published to reach a larger audience.
JS: Well, yes. We do see it as valuable to the artist. It gives them additional credibility as an artist and it is valuable because you can use it to generate other opportunities. Any time someone writes about your work it helps you in some way.
MC: It also represents a on of validation in some people’s eyes.
JS: Yes, and, as you said, it really gets the work out to a wider market. We do want to be smart about this and not get bogged down with heavy printing costs. The problem with publishing is that it is so expensive. We are also working with some people on the idea of doing web publishing, which would have a huge audience and we could capitalize on having a shorter run on our actual printed materials. There are a lot of things like this that the Warhol Initiative has really allowed us to think about, that we have wanted to do for along time. Getting that initial seed money has been very difficult.
MC: In the history of gift-giving for your type of organization, does this represent a significant amount of money or is this par for the course? I would imagine that this represents one of the most major contributions to your organization.
JS: I wish it was par for the course! One hundred thousand is a really significant amount of money for this type of organization to receive. We have received, and are lucky to currently have generous support this city, and the city is lucky to have generous foundations and individuals who support the arts. I don’t think people realize how unique it is, that this city is unbelievable in that respect. For instance, the Coalition has been given money from the Francis Family Foundation for many years, adding up to a really significant amount. The same thing is true with our landlord, who has given us our gallery here since 1986. That is a really serious contribution.
MC: Especially with the redevelopment in the City Market area and the rise of property values. It actually becomes a more and more significant gift each year as values go up in the neighborhood.
JS: Absolutely Over time I would say we have received more money, but this represents the largest single grant we have received. And it is the most prestigious award we have received: in our field, the Warhol grant is pretty much “it”.
MC: I guess it represents quite a cachet then, both monetarily and symbolically?
JS: It means a lot of things to us. To have this much money means you can dream beyond what you could normally fund. Because this has such a cachet that other people may want to join in … just because of what has happened. Just the idea that we are able to start new programs and are able to get them off the ground — people will see the benefit of that. The goal will really be to really expand our reach nationally in order to benefit the artists. It will also benefit us, which is a win-win situation for artists in the city. We are a little concerned that as we see more and more going on locally we are not seeing the core support for the arts really expanding. One thing we have been trying to do is to develop a wider audience because right now that core can only support so much and we really need to expand that. That is one way our Open Studios could have huge, broad marketing influence. You just never know. I mean, there are people out there who for whatever reason maybe have not felt invited into out art world.
MC: I would imagine there are quite a few.
JS: And Open Studios is so wonderfully accessible that in some ways it’s like a Homes Tour, where people can come and kind of be a voyeur and hopefully get the bug and come back. That really was our experience with the first one, so we are expecting that again.
MC: Do you think that most of these people you are trying to reach in me the region or beyond the city limits are more interested in developing themselves as artists or becoming patrons of the arts?
JS: Everything we do serves two masters. Number one is how does it help the artist? Number two is how does it help the person who is interested in art but is not an artist?
MC: It seems like number one would be a little bit easier to identify.
JS: Because we are artist-centered and artist-run, that is our main thing, although you can support artists all you want but if you don’t support their audience you’re kind of limiting what you can do for the artist. Ultimately even if an artist is creating work that they do not want to sell or cannot sell, if there is an audience for it there will be a venue for it and possibly dollar support for it as well. Frankly, a lot of artists do want to sell work. So to create an audience that is savvy and empowered to buy a local artists’ work is the other main thing.
We do have many patrons who want to support the Coalition. They get really what we are really about and understand our needs, understand that we support people who are working on achieving certain goals. But then there is another part of that audience who frankly does not care much about that— they just want to buy some cool art. That is okay too. The same can be true of artists. Some have a real altruistic approach: they see the organization for the greater good it can do and, while they understand there is some real benefit to them personally, they also see the big picture. Some artists just see it as “Can I get a show here, can I find out about things that are going to help me?” and that can be where it stops. It can be the same way with some of our audience asking “Do they have what I want to buy here and, if not, then who does?”
MC: So it’s kind of like a commercial gallery to them at that point?
JS: To some extent, yes. But they get on our lists, they get the information and find out about other artists and other things going on. These have been the threads we have been working on; trying to bring up the level of both aspects in ways that will ultimately assist the artists. Another way we do this is through our slide registry. This is something from the very beginning, that people have used and continue to use. We now have a lot of designer and art consultants who use it because it is an easy way for them to find a whole bunch of artists at one time and they can take that information back to their clients. For the artist, it allows their work to be here when we are open, while they can be in their studio working. The directory that we put out is also a benefit because it goes out to over 40,000 people. The artists who are in there are getting opportunities from that exposure.
MC: Where does this leave the commercial galleries? It seems like there are similarities in how you help artists, although you cast an even broader net regarding the people you help.
JS: We are more inclusive than most galleries would ever want to be, I would imagine.
MC: Actually, commercial galleries cannot be because they have to pay their bills with money from the art they can sell.
JS: Exactly, and that is a huge thing. That is one of the issues we try to teach our artists. In a commercial gallery, a director may love your work but if they know they can’t sell it then you’ve got to give them a break. They have to pay the rent too.
MC: That’s probably one of the most frustrating things about that line of work. You do see things that are incredibly valid and wonderful, and you may share a passion for what they are doing, but the reality is that you may not have the magical buyer to match them up with. So it becomes this balancing act. If you can do it then it is the most rewarding and wonderful facilitating moment.
JS: Or maybe the artist is at a point where they don’t have a body of work yet or are not working consistently yet. We actually have a good working relationship with most of the galleries in town. They are working for the artist in a way that we are not able to do. We have 538, not 18, so it is different thing, although some of our members have gallery affiliation and contracts with commercial galleries. In those situations we work in tandem. On the other hand, if we do know an artist is working with a gallery and the client is working with a gallery, then we just stay out of it. That relationship is usually contractual in a different way than ours is.
MC: Its nice when contracts can be compatible. Unfortunately, there don’t seem to be as money situations like that as perhaps there could be.
JS: Although selling art is not one our main goals, we do enjoy a commission the same way everyone else does and it supports the work that we do. But we do not have a sales staff set aside.
MC: Is that an area you would want to see evolve?
JS: We want to see sales for artists’ work increase and we do feel like there is a role for us to play in that. I think it would change the focus of what we do overall if that were to become part of our mission.
MC: What do you think will be the most visible change people will see in your organization as a result of the Warhol Initiative?
JS: Probably nothing immediately. One of the reasons I am looking at different publishing ideas, grants to artist, or ideally a combination of both, would be because I really do what people to see something and this is probably the opportunity to do it. It would let people know about us in a new way and allow us to realize another part of what we see as our mission.
MC: Has this decision making caused any conflicts among your constituents? Are you getting a lot of input and finding yourself in a position where you have to make some difficult decisions on where not to put the money?
JS: No. Our Board of Directors will be the decision makers and we will also work with the Warhol Foundation. Hopefully, we can use the money to leverage other money. If you can go out and say “We have this huge chunk of money for our endowment, would you please match that?”
There is a rationale for a foundation is to do that. The same holds true with out other programs. Seed money is a one-time infusion that won’t last forever so we need other support.
MC: I would think that you would see a tendency for other foundations to want to help, as well as not to want to help because they ay have this idea that you have all the money you need now. Conversely, they might feel a sense of validation being on the same list of contributors as the Warhol. It could be that they see the result of what someone else’s money has done for you and it helps them to visualize what they could do.
JS: I think everything you have said is sort of true. We wouldn’t go out and say, “We are in dire need,” because people know we have some money coming our way. Foundations, especially, understand how it works and they know that the money gets targeted. The funny thing about the Warhol is that you target the money after you do a lot of thinking and research on where you think it should go. I didn’t have to sit down when I wrote this grant and say “Okay, I want $75,000 for my endowment, $15,000 for this and $10,000 for that,” which is typically how a grant would work where you have a budget to submit. We were invited to apply because they were already aware of our work and knew that we had good programming. So all we were asked to do was write a three-page letter talking about the Artists Coalition and how these funds might be beneficial. It was really very open.
MC: So you caught their eye as opposed to having to seek them out. That was going to be my next question: why do you think they were drawn to you? You sort of answered that earlier in terms of the history of the Coalition and the length at which it has sustained itself. I would imagine, when comparing that to an organization that has only been around for a year or two or five, they may see their money being better spent on someone who has proven they can manage it wisely.
JS: They asked 25 people to apply and nine got it. We were the only one in the Midwest. I think there was one in Alaska and maybe one in New York and California. It is really prestigious and we were ecstatic that we were asked to apply and then did get it. I think it is due in part to track record. We really have been in the trenches for a long time and stuck close to our mission to support artists and show artist’s work. This is an example of where it really pays off for you…
MC: There is an added bonus beyond the money. There is this national focus of recognition after years of doing what the Coalition has done. This sort of breaks it all open in a way for everyone to see…
JS: Yes. From the staff and organization’s point of view, it is like you know you are doing good stuff and you know it’s valuable, then someone else comes along and says “Hey, you know, you’re doing good stuff and its valuable.” You are like, “Oh thank you!” It’s really, really meaningful and it feels great just seeing somebody recognize that the work we do is good, and needs support, and deserves support. It being the Warhol Foundation is just great.
MC: Do you feel an added pressure because you now have this national focus and people might really be looking at this organization with a lot of anticipation, wondering what was really going on here and what is going to happen here now? Do you feel pressure from individuals who maybe want to see results that could be too idealistic or unrealistic?
JS: I have been here now for thirteen, fourteen years, so I have kind of seen how it works. The organization tends to raise up and then they have to plateau off and kind of consolidate any advances. If you stay on the plateau you get bored, tired, and so does everybody else. So, naturally — I think it is Darwinism or something — you can either go up or down. I see this as a real opportunity to reach up. Then we will have to be careful that we don’t overextend. I would say that we are really good stewards of the money we get. We are also really good at getting inkind contributions from people and we really make every dollar we get go a long way. One of the ways to consolidate is to never go out beyond your reach. At the same time, you have to able to take risks.
MC: This kind of raise the stakes but, at the same time, it sounds like if things keep going the way they have been you will be existing at a higher level of development over a longer period of time.
JS: The publishing is clearly a way to reach out. Especially if we do a web-based project, we can reach out globally. This would be so good for artists, to get out there. And, if we do the working grants, that it is really an infrastructure thing that is just going to keep the community solid. In terms of our immediate local art community I think it would be fabulous. Whether it happens at the Artists Coalition or somewhere else, most people are in this for the long-haul. Sometimes you get things that are great. The Warhol Initiative has been fabulous, but we have to be smart and we have to think, ‘Well, the organization has been around for 28 years and we don’t want it to become a bureaucracy. We all want to sustain it, so what choices can we make now during this ”fifteen minutes of fame” that are really going to have long-term payoffs?’ It really is much the same for artists. You get little hits — you get a show or you get a write-up or you get your picture published — and that’s great, but how do you parlay that so two years from now you’re still getting some benefit? That is where the hard work is. You’ve got to have the future in mind.
You may want to enjoy the present but you have to be working and you need to be thinking ahead, too. It is hard for us it is hard for us as the artist to figure out how to make decisions that sustain. That is what we are going to he looking for. KCAC Awarded 100K Warhol Grant
The Warhol Initiative is the Andy Warhol Foundation’s national capacity-building effort for small and mid-sized visual arts organizations. According to Pamela Clapp, Program Director of the Warhol Initiative, “Small and mid-sized visual arts organization of many varieties - all could be described as artist-centered organizations - have been a focus of the Foundation’s grant program since its inception. The pivotal role these organizations play in the infrastructure of the art world is abundantly clear. Artists across the country cite these organization as vital in their support of the creative process and as an important link to audiences.” Launched in the fall of 1999, the Initiative is investing $5 million over a five-year period in artists-centered visual arts groups. Arts organizations from across the country are handpicked by the Initiative to apply for the $100,000 grants. In conjunction with the grant award, a Warhol foundation representative recently conducted an onsite self-assessment of the Coalition to set goals for infrastructure improvements and program enhancements. Other Warhol grant recipients include Creative Time, Dieu Donne Papermill, and Exit Art, all in New York City; headlands Center for the Arts in San Francisco; Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions and Self-Help Graphics in Los Angeles; Out North in Anchorage, Alaska; and Space One Eleven in Birmingham, Alabama.
Review, May/June 2002, pgs 48-51.