Arts & Technology Portfolio
I see the philanthropic sector as one of the few sectors in the economy that should have the freedom to engage in calculated risk taking. I include the arts in that equation as well. When thinking about the arts, most people might envision a dancer or a painter or a writer. And of course, artists working in traditional forms are an important part of the arts landscape. But now there are also artists working at the juncture of a number of contemporary fields, including arts and technology, arts and biology, arts and ecology, etc. These pioneers are taking us to new places, not only by often creating wondrous projects, but by encouraging us to think critically about the technologies we take for granted, and how important it is to understand their limits and consequences.
My approach to giving includes three strategies:
1) I look for organizations that might be working behind the scenes, that are a bit out of public view, but that provide the bedrock for artistic exploration that can lead to groundbreaking cultural ideas.
2) I look for organizations that are respected by the constituencies they serve, and that have strong and effective leadership and constituent responsive programming.
3) I am also motivated by a sense of urgency, and while many might wonder if the arts are ever truly urgent, I would say that artists who are alerting us to the complex issues inherent in our evolving technologies couldn’t be more important right now.
I am focusing my giving on high impact organizations in the art and technology arena. The organizations I have selected are doing groundbreaking work in supporting artists’ powerful visions and training the next generation of creators. (Full disclosure: I am on the advisory boards of both New Inc and Eyebeam.)
About the curator
Ruby Lerner is the founding Executive Director of Creative Capital, an innovative arts foundation that adapts venture capital concepts to support individual artists. Under her 17 years of leadership, Creative Capital designed a comprehensive support system for artists that combined money with advisory support. It committed more than $40 million in financial and advisory support to 511 projects representing 642 artists. This commitment helped grantees leverage nearly $100 million in additional support.
Currently, Ruby is working as an Advisor to the Arts Exchange at the Open Society Foundations, assisting in the design of the new international Soros Arts Fellowship. In 2017, she was the inaugural Senior Policy Advisor to the Herberger Institute at Arizona State University and Innovator-in-Residence at CalArts. Ruby currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and Light Industry, and serves on a number of advisory boards, including New INC at the New Museum, Eyebeam and The Feminist Institute.
In her more than 40 years in the arts, Ruby has written and lectured extensively, including at Harvard Business School (in conjunction with a Harvard Business School case study on Creative Capital) and for the University of North Carolina’s Entrepreneurship Program. She gave the 2016 Purchase College Jandon Business of the Arts Keynote, and has spoken at numerous schools across the nation, including CalArts, RISD, Columbia, Oberlin, Harvard, the University of Texas at Austin, Syracuse University and Arizona State University. Lerner was a 30th Anniversary ArtTable Honoree (2011). She is recipient of the Art in General Visionary Award (2016), and the John L. Haber Award from the University of North Carolina (2009), among many other awards. http://www.rubylerner.com
Opportunities in this portfolio
New Museum of Contemporary Art
NEW INC. Artist Residencies
NEW INC. is the first museum-led incubator for art, design and technology. It is an experimental initiative of the New Museum in New York City, and brings together over 100 cultural practitioners and creative entrepreneurs. NEW INC. occupies 8000 square feet of dedicated office, workshop, social and presentation space, and each year selects an outstanding interdisciplinary community of 100 members who are investigating new ideas and developing sustainable practices. It produces periodic Demo Days to showcase participants’ projects and recently added an intensive weekend retreat for its participants to have time to interact with each other and with resource people from the community. Support will help NEW INC. subsidize artists’ residencies.
HW Artist Education Programs
Harvestworks was founded by artists in 1977, and since then, it has helped countless practitioners create new work using new and evolving technologies. Their goal is to also create a responsive public context for the appreciation of new work, and to bring together innovators from across the arts for collaborative activities. They educate artists through an extensive set of workshops in digital media; they have a workshop residency program, and they have produced more than 400 projects for their artists-in-residence. They produce a public biennial Electronic Art Festival as well. This organization is a stalwart in the art and technology field, and support will help them continue to educate future generations of 21st Century artists.
EA Artist Residencies
Eyebeam ensures artists become central in the invention and design of our shared future. The organization was founded in 1997 as a place to think creatively and critically about how technology is transforming our society. Everything Eyebeam does is guided by their values: openness, invention and justice. By providing generous support to artists for research and production through its residency program, Eyebeam helps turn powerful ideas into reality. Support to Eyebeam will help make these residencies, so valued by artists, possible.
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