How art gets generated.

As Galleries, Artists Limp Along, Donors Amass Millions for Sandy Relief Grants

Hurricane Sandy damage at the David Zwirner Gallery in Chelsea

Hurricane Sandy damage at the David Zwirner Gallery in Chelsea

As Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts crawl forward in Chelsea, a growing number of donors are moving in to aid artists and galleries shaken by the storm. Upper East Side dealer William Acquavella has just pledged $100,000 to the Art Dealers Association of America’s Relief Fund, and one of his clients, who asked to remain anonymous, added another $200,000 on top of that. And all of this comes at the heels of Friday’s news that the fund had doubled its starting balance to $500,000.

“So many galleries are having a really rough time right now and have lost so much, we want to do whatever we can to help get them back on their feet,” Acquavella said in an email.

Today also marks the launch of one of the industry’s most ambitious recovery programs to date, a joint effort by the Andy Warhol Foundation, the Lambent Foundation, and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, which together have amassed around $3 million for artists and art organizations in need.

“We hope we can give to most everybody who has been hard-hit,” said Christy MacLear, executive director of the Rauschenberg Foundation, which plans to contribute around $500,000 to the cause. Along with $2 million from the Warhol Foundation, that funding will be split between grants for individual artists, administered through the New York Foundation for the Arts, and grants for arts organizations, applications for which are available on the new site Emergency Grants. The Lambent Foundation expects to provide another $250,000 to $500,000 to the NYFA fund.

For spaces like Chelsea’s Winkleman Gallery, which sustained severe structural damage, rebuilding could take up to six weeks — and that comes during the crucial lead-up to Art Basel Miami Beach. “The future was cloudy there for a while,” said owner Edward Winkleman.FEMA rejected his grant application and he had little time to focus on his participation in the upcoming Seven Art Fair in Miami.

But then he applied for the ADAA grant and had a $10,000 check in hand by the end of the week. “What the ADAA has enabled us to do is move forward with a little more confidence — particularly important for galleries our size — and to make preparations for Miami.”

The award amounts vary case by case, but the foundation-backed grants are expected to range from around $5,000 for individual artists to $25,000 for organizations. “We don’t know yet what’s going to come in,” said NYFA executive director Michael Royce. “But right now you can apply for funding for damage to physical space, damage to a home or studio, loss of equipment or supplies, or reimbursement for cancelled performances or engagements — and it could be many more things.”

As of now, there are no application deadlines. “We may find more need,” said MacLear, “and then I’ll go back to my board and ask for more money.”

By Rachel Corbett, November 21, 2012.

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