Meet the New Foundation Filling a Persistent Void in Local Arts Philanthropy

News out of Los Angeles suggests that Southern California's vibrant philanthropic arts scene resembles Swiss cheese.

In other words, while the region may be (aesthetically) enticing, savory, and fulfilling, it's nonetheless riddled with holes.

The same can be said for other places in the U.S. 

Let us explain.

Los Angeles has a new arts grantmaker, the Davyd Whaley Foundation, which recently launched to fill an "over-looked gap in L.A.'s art philanthropy." The city boasts an "ever-expanding visual arts scene, however, some things have not kept pace with this growth and that is support of a certain population of individual artists working in Southern California" (emphasis added).

According to its press release, the foundation will award its inaugural grants in early 2017 and plans to expand its grant program in the coming years. Awardees at the end of each year will be further recognized with a showcase exhibition and sale of their work at a local venue.

Initially, two grants will be awarded, according to Director Ellie Blankfort. The release of grants will be staggered over the first year of the foundation. The first grant will be the $10,000 Davyd Whaley Mid-Career Artist Grant, awarded to an under-recognized, mid-career artist in the Los Angeles area. Application for this grant will be available October 15, 2016.

The second will be the $10,000 Davyd Whaley Artist-Teacher Grant, awarded to an artist-teacher in the Los Angeles area, to allow them more time and resources for their own studio work. Application for the second grant will be available January 15, 2017.

These grants are available to artists in the following five counties: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernadino, and Ventura.

All of which brings us back to the swiss cheese analogy. In a city overlowing with art, mega-museums, and very, very rich people, it sounds rather strange that foundations frequently overlook mid-career artists. But according to the foundation, the gap is very real, and we can't say we needed much convincing, based on what we see in LA and other arts local funding scenes. 

What's more, according to the foundation, the rare monies going directly to artists does not fund mid-career or under-recognized artists in supporting their work in the studio. L.A.'s Department of Cultural Affairs COLA Master Fellowship grant, for example, goes to accomplished artists and their Artist in Residence grant supports an artist heading up a workshop for an underserved population.

It just goes to show you that all philanthropy is local. After all, we here at IP frequently look at foundations supporting individual artists on a national scale—click here and here for recent examples—as well as those taking a non-monetary approach. But nationwide grant programs, quite naturally, suggest a far larger applicant pool and with it, greater competition. They're of little consolation to mid-career Los Angeles-based artists looking for direct financial support.

And so TV director Norman Buckley established the foundation to honor his late husband Davyd Whaley (1967-2014). Whaley was a resident artist at the Santa Fe Art Colony in downtown Los Angeles, a member of the Los Angeles Art Association, and previously worked for 15 years as an electrical engineer. (Click here to learn more about Whaley.)

"The foundation not only provides monetary support but also seeks to champion the values of the artist in whose honor it is named," Blankfort said. "Davyd Whaley was deeply committed to the exploration of the human psyche in his work, as well as helping those he saw to be in need of his support and encouragement. It is his personal commitment that served as a model for our mission."