We are thrilled to announce that the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts has awarded WPA a two-year, $80,000 grant, in support of our new artist-driven program model. This is WPA’s first Warhol Foundation grant since 1995.

“The Warhol Foundation is proud to support WPA’s dynamic range of artist-driven programs and its efforts to empower and earn the respect of the local creative community,” writes Rachel Bers, the Warhol Foundation’s program director. “Its smart and sensitive re-positioning provides a solid home base for artists to present work, pursue ideas, and generate relevant and responsive programs.”

WPA is now serving as a platform for DC artists. We invite artists to conceive of programs that showcase the work or ideas of other artists (or creative thinkers) and then support them with money, introductions/connections, idea-development, planning & production, communications, marketing, and promotion. Artist-driven programming combines the best of two existing models—“artist-run” and “artist-centered”. It is closer in intent to an artist-run model than to an artist-centered one because artists are curating everything—exhibitions, performances, talks, workshops, screenings, platforms, etc. Yet it provides a degree of professional support and organizational stability that an “artist-run” model might not.

We welcome and encourage program pitches from any artist in the DC-Baltimore region, from the DC diaspora, or from artists who are addressing topics of particular relevance to DC communities. We ask for a 100-word description of the core project idea. We review pitches as they come in, asking ourselves if the idea will introduce new ideas to the local community, if it is distinctive or imaginative, if it has the potential to lift up or advance multiple artists simultaneously, and if we believe we can secure the resources necessary to support it. If the answer is yes, we invite the artist in to our office/gallery to discuss the idea in greater depth and then ask for a more fleshed out proposal. For lectures, talks, or group discussions we’ll typically back the idea with a commitment of up to $1,500 (for honoraria and travel); for small exhibitions up to $6,000. We have several pitches in development for projects that will require much more—ranging from $25,000 to $50,000 and our ability to realize them will depend upon our ability to secure project-specific funding. When a project is complete, we ask the organizing artists to complete an exit interview. We want to know what kind of impact the experience might have had on their thinking and/or practice, and whether or not we were effective partners. We’ve been using this feedback to refine the program.

We are incredibly grateful to the Warhol Foundation for their leadership and support at this crucial time. We view the grant as an important endorsement of our new artist-driven program model. The money establishes a firm footing on which to build over the next two years, allowing us to co-produce increasingly ambitious, experimental, and imaginative projects. The money will be spent on artist honoraria, speaking fees, travel, production, shipping, and other direct program costs.

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July 10, 2018