The art market may be back, if we are to believe the feeding frenzy at last week's Miami art fairs, but artists can always use new avenues of funding (and not everyone loves the art-fair rat race anyway). Now, the grant-making nonprofit United States Artists is opening up a new front for artists looking to realize projects: a "fund-raising social networking Web site," dubbed USA Projects. According to the Wall Street Journal, the initiative is set to be announced tonight at a gala marking the organization's fifth anniversary at Jazz at Lincoln Center. And it has found at least one high-profile art-world supporter in the celebrated mixed-media artist Mark Bradford, who is providing a $100,000 donation to the USA Projects matching fund Artists2Artists to get the Web site going.
United States Artists' "microphilanthropy" initiative is seemingly modeled after the crowd-funding site Kickstarter, which encourages the sponsorship of projects through small online donations and has increasingly become an avenue for cash-strapped museums and nonprofits to support themselves by appealing to the public. Artists2Artists will allow artists to post information about a project they would like to realize, along with a funding deadline and the amount of money they would need to actualize it, with the hopes that fellow artists will pitch in to support art that resonates with them. How exactly the funding scheme works is not yet totally clear, though the Artists2Artists site explains that United States Artists will offer "1-to-1 dollar match, at least 25% funded, no more than 99% funded, 10% of project goal, up to $1,000 per project" for selected projects.
Projects currently looking for funding through Artists2Artists include "Same Difference," a filmmaking collaboration between Catherine Opie and Lisa Udelson, which would explore the experience of same-sex partners raising children (42 supporters so far, $7,500 left to raise); a puppet show about homelessness by Dan Hurlin and Dan Froot (33 supporters, $1,350 left to raise); and a proposed solo show by Jennifer Bueno that would feature "pieces inspired by the magical familiarity and remoteness of satellite imagery" (just 3 supporters, $1,900 to raise).
Bradford, who is on the United States Artists board of directors and won a $50,000 grant from the organization in 2006, said that his enthusiasm for Artists2Artists was inspired by the support he had received from fellow artists like Daniel J. Martinez early in his career. "We've all been to rent parties where we help fellow artists raise funds," he said. "All we're doing now is making an informal economy formal."
Earlier this year the McArthur "genius" grant winner launched an artist-led education initiative with the Getty in Los Angeles.