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Creative Capital Receives $1 Million Gift From Estate of Theo Westenberger

April 2, 2014

Creative Capital is honored to receive a $1 million gift from the estate of photographer Theo Westenberger. The gift will be used to create new named awards to artists, establish a loan fund for Creative Capital alumni in Emerging Fields, Film/Video, Literature and Visual Arts, and launch a new program in Estate Planning for Artists.

"We are so excited to receive and put to use this generous gift from Theo's estate," says Ruby Lerner, Creative Capital president and executive director. "It is unprecedented for us in its scope and forward-thinking structure-a perfect tribute to such a visionary artist!

Acclaimed both commercially and in the fine arts, Westenberger was well known for her celebrity portraits and was the first woman to shoot the covers of Newsweek and Sports Illustrated.

She was also dedicated to teaching and helping to advance the work of others, a legacy that her estate continues through mentorship, resource sharing and a contest open to all women photographers. "Theo was committed to supporting individual artists and to providing the tools necessary to create success," says Colleen Keegan, executor of the Westenberger estate.

The generous gift, with its innovative threefold setup, embodies Creative Capital's core value of creating a generous community of artists and art professionals who support each other in myriad ways in both the near and long terms. $250,000 will immediately underwrite five Creative Capital "Theo Westenberger Awards" to artists: Yance Ford (2012 Film/Video), LaToya Ruby Frazier (2012 Visual Arts), Laurie Jo Reynolds (2013 Emerging Fields), Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts (2013 Literature) and Quintan Ana Wikswo (2013 Emerging Fields). $750,000 will then be invested, and each time the investment earnings reach $50,000 a new "Theo Westenberger Awardee" will be chosen from the roster of awardees.


The gift will also enable the creation of a loan fund for alumni artists in Emerging Fields, Film/Video, Literature and Visual Arts. An artist can only receive a Creative Capital award once, but the loan fund provides another opportunity for monetary support. Because the loans are low-interest, low-risk, and are accompanied by an optional financial planning clinic, they represent another way to help Creative Capital Artists succeed financially, build good credit and responsibly manage their financial lives. This loan fund complements the existing Loan Fund for the Performing Arts, which was created in 2011 with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Up to $250,000 of the Westenberger gift can be used to guarantee these loans.


Finally, based on repeated feedback from awardees, a new Creative Capital program in Estate Planning for Artists will be inaugurated. Initially designed for Creative Capital Artists, it will eventually be made available to all artists funded through Creative Capital's ancillary programs, as well as participants in Creative Capital's Professional Development Program for artists. For more information about the Westenberger photo contest, visit the Theo Westenberger Facebook page. Creative Capital awardees interested in applying for a loan should contact our Artist Services staff.


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