Saturday, November 11, 2006

Opening it Up

When I add it all up, I have either shown or worked at 14 non-profit art spaces, not including museums and university galleries, and they are all a lot alike. The installers at CAF remind me of the installers at Exit Art, the director at CAF, reminds me of the director at Artists Space, the assistant curator reminds me of the assistant curator at the Drawing Center, the space reminds me of White Columns, and on and on ad naseum. There's got to be another way, maybe even a better way.

Probably the best non-profit space I ever exhibited with was Wave Hill in the Bronx. Exhibition planning begins at least 7 months before a show (for my show at the Drawing Center initial meetings took place maybe 3 weeks before the show), contracts are drawn up, money is allocated before the work is completed. Most non-profits, if they provide the artist with any money at all, make the artist incur all costs up front, which can be quite a financial burden. Once I had to take out a home equity loan to cover my project costs until a particular unnamed non-profit entered it's new fiscal year! CAFhas been very generous.

But Wave Hill, with all it's good planning and support, has a parent organization to lean on for support, the gallery is one part of a bigger Wave Hill public garden, which makes me wonder about organizations joining resources since the competition for funding among non-profit art spaces is so high. This joining of resources recently occurred with the non-profit organization Americans For the Arts. This organization helped secure arts funding through ballot initiatives in 11 states. All 11 initiatives passed, allowing voters to decide how their tax dollars should be spent.

Ohio passed a ballot initiative that will levy a 30 cent tax on cigarettes for the arts for the next 10 years, which will most likely provide an additional 20 million dollars to artists and arts organizations. Maybe I'll move there?! Maybe not, but it seems like the non-profit art space is here to stay and they are pretty dynamic even in their uniformity and unity.