Press Release

More Than $1.5 Million Awarded to Arts and Cultural Institutions by Helen Frankenthaler Foundation this Fall

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Grants Provide Support for Cultural Projects Fostering Equity and Access and for Arts Institutions Impacted by COVID-19

The Helen Frankenthaler Foundation (HFF) is awarding more than $1.5 million in grants to cultural organizations this fall. This funding includes new grant distributions supporting small art museums impacted by the pandemic from its previously announced $5 million Helen Frankenthaler Foundation COVID-19 Relief Effort. It also comprises a roster of new two-year grants for digital initiatives and professional advancement opportunities for college students and recent graduates that enhance equity and access in the arts. Each of these grants being awarded this fall advance the Foundation’s mission to promote greater public interest in, support for, and understanding of the visual arts. 

Museums receiving funding through the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation COVID-19 Relief Effort are the Grey Art Gallery at New York University, Guild Hall, MIT List Visual Arts Center, Montclair Art Museum, Parrish Art Museum, The Provincetown Art Association and Museum, and Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University. Digital initiatives include grants to Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and The Studio Museum in Harlem. The recipients of additional equity and access grants include ArtsConnection, ArtTable, House of SpeakEasy, and Studio Institute.   

“The mission of the Foundation allows our board to be nimble in addressing the most pressing issues in the field of visual arts—and it is obvious right now that those issues encompass COVID-19 relief and equity in the arts,” said Clifford Ross, Board Chair of the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation. “While our core activity is to bring the work of Helen Frankenthaler to a wider audience, I join with my fellow board members Michael Hecht, Fred Iseman, and Lise Motherwell to align the Frankenthaler name with efforts to fashion an art world where crises are met with care and concrete responses, not indifference; where possibilities are realized, not placed out of reach; and where the best art of our time is discovered and celebrated, without preconceived notions of what form it might take or from which direction it might appear.”

Added Elizabeth Smith, Executive Director of the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, “Support for cultural institutions is ever more critical in the face of these current crises. We launched a multi-year COVID-19 relief effort this past spring because we knew the unprecedented financial impact of this epidemic would require a long and sustained recovery resource, and are pleased to be expanding the group of organizations benefiting from this effort. As we evaluated additional grants this fall, our ongoing commitment to research and education provided a new pathway forward to help promote equity and accessibility within the arts.

New Grants Awarded Through The Helen Frankenthaler Foundation COVID-19 Relief Effort

The Helen Frankenthaler Foundation COVID-19 Relief Effort, a three-year commitment which launched earlier this spring in response to the devastating and long-term impact of the pandemic, continues to distribute funds. The Helen Frankenthaler Foundation has selected seven small to mid-sized art museums to each receive a one-time relief payment of $50,000 to offset the financial strain endured as a result of the pandemic. Each institution has been a recent partner of the Foundation in presenting exhibitions to advance Frankenthaler’s legacy or developing scholarship to further the understanding of the broader context of modern and contemporary art. These institutions include the Grey Art Gallery at New York University, Guild Hall, MIT List Visual Arts Center, Montclair Art Museum, Parrish Art Museum, The Provincetown Art Association and Museum, and Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University. 

The HFF COVID-19 Relief Effort has also increased its initial support of funds that provide direct support to artists including $50,000 fall grants to Artist Relief and Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grants COVID-19 Fund, building on previous support from this past spring.

Grants Supporting Equity and Access Initiatives

New fall 2020 grants include a series that extends the Foundation’s enduring investment in building the arts talent pipeline, as evidenced through the ongoing Frankenthaler Scholarships program for MFA and PhD students, as well as those that are expanding access to cultural resources, both in-person and online. These include grants to: 

ArtsConnection, for its Teen Reviewers and Critics program, which offers New York City high school students in under-resourced communities free after-school opportunities to enhance their critical thinking and expression skills through the arts ($150,000 over two years); 

ArtTable, as part of its expanded Fellowship program, which recently increased stipends to fellows, doubled the number of fellows, and placed the first Native American woman in the program. ArtTable Fellowships are paid opportunities for graduate students and emerging professionals from underrepresented backgrounds to work with established leaders at select museums and cultural institutions across the United States ($60,000 over two years); 

• The House of SpeakEasy Bookmobile, a roving truck that offers access to art books along with educational programming by writers and artists for underserved young audiences in “book deserts” across various NYC boroughs ($100,000 over two years);

• The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, one of The New York Public Library's world-leading research libraries, for its Digital Curation Initiative, which will provide unparalleled public online access to their visual arts collections of art, artifacts, and photographs, celebrating and preserving Black culture and history ($500,000 over two years);

• The Studio Institute to support its program for arts interns, which introduces college students from diverse and low-income backgrounds to arts careers through paid 9-week summer internships at cultural institutions in Boston, Cleveland, Memphis, New York, Philadelphia, and Providence ($112,000 over two years); and

• The Studio Museum in Harlem’s new website, which will offer a streamlined design, amplified multimedia functionality, enhanced online learning, increased access to the Museum's archive, and digital presentations grounded in its renowned collection and programming amplifying art and artists of African descent ($350,000 over two years). 

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House of SpeakEasy Bookmobil. Photo by Jasmina Tomic, courtesy House of SpeakEasy.

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