Any time the director of a foundation speaks, we pay attention. And when that director is Allison Galgiani, head of the Rema Hort Mann Foundation, which has been supporting emerging New York and LA-based artists for over 20 years, then we're doubly attentive.
Galgiani recently sat down for a lengthy and illuminating interview with Arte Fuse magazine. In it, we learned that in addition to supporting emerging artists, the foundation has a dual mission of providing grants for travel, accommodations, child care, and related expenses to help strengthen the emotional and familial support for cancer patients while they are undergoing treatment. (The foundation began in 1995 when the friends and family of Rema Hort Mann decided to honor her after her untimely death from stomach cancer at age 30.)
In a way, the foundation is almost like two foundations under a single umbrella, each devoted to its own unique mission. And in both aspects, the foundation leans heavily on outsider opinion and input. For example, prior to awarding its Quality of Life cancer grants, the foundation works with a group of social workers who identify patients in financially dire circumstances.
As for arts funding, the foundation works with a "select board of nominators to acknowledge emerging artists who are at that important tipping point in their career where they need that little extra encouragement and motivation to continue their artistic practice."
While this approach may initially come across as limiting — clearly, the foundation would generate many more applications if the process was open — it has consistently proven adept at uncovering countless under-the-radar artists in both New York and LA.
According to Galgiani, the foundation is looking for artists who "might have been part of group shows or DIY art space," but "can’t have been part of a solo commercial gallery show or be represented."
The selection process for 2015's LA Emerging Artist grants began the previous fall, when the foundation accepted nominations from select curators, artists, critics, and collectors who were "most in touch with the Los Angeles emerging art scene." This year's selection committee included Susan Hort (collector and representative of the Rema Hort Mann Foundation), LA-based painter Rosson Crow, and LA-based writer and independent curator Michael Ned Holte.
From a pool of 62 applicants, the eight artists were then selected through a second, independent selection committee. Winners received unrestricted grants to the tune of $10,000 each.
The lesson for artists who aren't on the LA or NYC "arts radar" yet? Work hard, network, and raise your profile. The foundation's nominators are an inquisitive bunch. Odds are they'll find you before you find them.