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CRAIN'S NEW YORK BUSINESS, "Nonprofit Draws Interest with Creative Approach"

May 7, 2001



By Miriam Kreinin Souccar
 Word has spread quickly through art studios and film labs across the country that there is a new kind of foundation in town. Unlike others, which rarely support individual artists—and if they do, simply send a one time check—Creative Capital treats its grantees like cultural investments, offering second and third rounds of funding, marketing advice and invaluable support. If the artists ever make any money from projects that have been funded, they have to give about 10% of it back to a fund to support artists in the future. "We are using venture capital techniques to support individual artists," says Archibald Gillies, president of the Andy Warhol Foundation, and one of the founders of Creative Capital. The idea was born when the National Endowment for the Arts stopped giving grants to individual artists in the mid-1990s, after coming under fire from Congress for funding controversial work. Creative Capital quickly earned a reputation as a refuge for artists creating provocative work, though its officials say they give all work equal consideration. One grantee, New York-based filmmaker Sandi DuBowski, recently finished a documentary on gay and lesbian Hasidic and Orthodox Jews, Trembling Before G-d. Mr. DuBowski, who just signed a distribution deal for his documentary with New Yorker Films, says he spent six years raising money for his film from hundreds of sources. But Creative Capital, in addition to giving him $15,000, introduced him to his mentors, attended his screening at the Sundance Film Festival, and invited him to its annual retreat for all grantees, where they can mingle with established artists and consultants.
At the last retreat, one Creative Capital grantee, Alison Cornyn, who creates on-line documentaries with Sue Johnson, met the head of Creative Time, a New York non-profit. Through that connection, the filmmakers ended up exhibiting their work in Milan, Italy. "Creative Capital doesn’t just think of the artist as a person in a studio creating, but how to get that work out to the world," Ms. Cornyn says.

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