Charles C. Bergman, The Pollock-Krasner Foundation

TITLE: Chairman and CEO

FUNDING AREAS: Painters, sculptors, print makers, and artists who work on paper 

CONTACT: grants@pkf.org, 212-517-5400

IP TAKE: Bergman is a man of many talents, and his background lends itself well to his multiple consulting roles in philanthropy and beyond. 

PROFILE: Charles C. Bergman is a man who wears many hats. Most notable of these is his very active role as Chairman and CEO of The Pollock-Krasner Foundation, an organization he was instrumental in founding. He also holds a chairmanship at the New York Foundation for the Arts as part of their Leadership Council and sits on the National Council at the National Arts Journalism Program at Columbia University. He's been a member of New York City's Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission and Harvard's Art Museum's Overseers Committee. And that's still only a fraction of his involvement. Where does he find the time?

In 1985 Bergman was asked by the estate of Lee Krasner, the artist and widow of Jackson Pollock, to set up a foundation that would provide for "worthy and needy artists" in accordance with the wishes set forth in her will. Bergman went on to create The Pollock-Krasner Foundation and acted as its first Chief Operating Officer and Executive VP and set up the template for the foundation's grant system. He, along with an anonymous committee, is very active in the foundation's current grant-making. The Pollock-Krasner Foundation is geared to specifically fund painters, sculptors, graphic, mixed media, and installation artists for everything from studio rentals and artists' supplies, to healthcare needs and money to single parent artists for child care.

But The Pollock-Krasner Foundation is only the tip of the iceberg for Bergman. He has a long history of involvement in both the arts world and the philanthropy world in many different capacities. Bergman served on the New York State Council on the Arts under George Pataki and is a former member of the Board of Trustees for Miami's National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, now known as the National YoungArts Foundation. He also has a history of involvement with Very Special Arts in Washington, D.C., an international network of organizations involved in arts programs for people with disabilities. The VSA is an affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and has partners nationwide.

Bergman has also sat on boards and committees at New York's Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, an adjunct to the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, the Sculpture Committee of the Park Avenue Malls Planting Project, and the National Council of the Glimmerglass Opera. He's also former Vice President of the Inter-American Foundation for the Arts, an international nonprofit based in New York that is purportedly the first private cultural exchange program between the United States and Latin America.

Through it all Bergman has always retained his position at The Pollock-Krasner Foundation, playing a very hands-on role in the distribution of over $54 million in grants in the years since 1985. The gifts have gone to over 3,500 artists in 72 different countries across the globe.

Quoted in an interview with Drew Steis in Making a Living As an Artist, Bergman says of the Pollock-Krasner grants, "The delicate balance of artistic merit and financial need is our dual criteria for making these grants. And it is a tough call... You don't have to be in some dire catastrophic illness to get a grant from us. Our grants are very much for artists and for the normal slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, as I like to say."

He's also very proud of the support the foundation gives for artists in medical need. "We are very concerned about the medical, dental, psychological, and surgical needs of an artist... When illness, particularly catastrophic illness such as AIDS, hits an artist it can be devastating. We are the only private foundation that I know of in the country that is actually giving grants directly to individuals with AIDS, providing, of course, that they meet the artistic merit criteria."

Bergman has also acted as advisor in the private world to the "ethical investment group" Foursome Investments, now known as Frog Capital. The thread that connects most all of Bergman's endeavors is his love of art and his soft spot for those in need, two of the best qualities for someone in his line of work.