F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said, "There are no second acts in American lives." He obviously never met Andy Warhol.
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts recently awarded a two-year $100,000 grant to Burlington City Arts. The grant, which is intended to support the creation and exhibition of new artwork (which elegantly sums up the foundation's core mission in a nutshell) comes seven years after City Arts received its first Warhol grant. Communications director Eric Ford called this second award "unprecedented" for a Vermont organization.
We'll look at how City Arts plans to use the funds in a second. But in a classic case of the "buried lead," let's first step back and contextualize the grant, which comes at a time in which the Warhol Foundation is ramping up its philanthropic giving.
2014 saw the foundation wrap up a record-breaking round of donations, marking the beginning of a new phase solely dedicated towards grant-making. The grant to Burlington City Arts was part of a recent $4 million funding spree spanning 40 organizations.
Elsewhere, a recent give to the Buffalo's Squeaky Wheel was allotted for its ongoing media arts and visual arts programs, while a $70,000 grant to St. Louis' Fort Gondo Arts Compound will be used to support its visual arts programming over the next two years.
At the same time, the New York Times recently noted that the foundation is also curating approximately 40 Warhol exhibitions at institutions and universities across the country. 2014 saw the foundation give away more than 14,000 works. In total, the foundation has distributed precisely 52,785 Warhol works to 322 institutions since 1999. (But who's counting?)
The bottom line? The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts is taking things to the next level, positioning itself as the major U.S. arts funder and tastemaker. And it's doing so with a cash endowment of $280 million and assets exceeding $350 million, and even more importantly, thanks to its namesake, a priceless and influential cache.
So, nonprofits devoted to the visual arts take note. The foundation plans to give away $14 million in cash grants, primarily to U.S.-based institutions, in the upcoming year. As we just noted, the foundation loves funding the visual arts — but with a few twists. The foundation seems particularly keen on efforts to establish artist-operated spaces as of late. It allotted a two-year $300,000 grant to establish Common Field, a national grass-roots network of artist-run spaces and projects.
Not coincidentally, Burlington City Arts plans to use their money to identify new ways and places for selected artists to work. Communications Director Ford (remember him?) noted that they have their sights set on a location in the heart of Burlington. City Arts also plans to roll out artist residencies in state parks during 2015's "Of Land and Local" multi-location exhibit.
The Warhol Foundation plans to be extremely generous in 2015. So with apologies to Mr. Fitzgerald, we anticipate many first and second acts of arts funding in the upcoming year.