New programme aims to train future leaders of artist foundations

Seminar to be held in New York at the offices of influential philanthropic groups, including the Roy Lichtenstein and Joan Mitchell foundations

Artist-endowed foundations have seen the value of their assets double over the past five years, according to the Aspen Institute Artist-Endowed Foundations Initiative (AEFI). Until recently, however, leaders in this rapidly growing field have had to learn on the job, often making rookie mistakes along the way. A new programme launched by AEFI aims to fix this problem.

The first-annual seminar for new artist-endowed foundation leaders, to be held in New York in June, aims to train the future directors, trustees and board members of this increasingly influential philanthropic sector. They will learn the basics of running an artist foundation, from how to implement a grant programme to working with art dealers.

“Most new directors are credentialed in the arts, they are sophisticated people, but they quickly discover that there is a whole body of knowledge that they don’t have,” says Christine Vincent, the director of the AEFI. The weeklong seminar (6-10 June) will be held at the offices of a different artist foundation every day, including the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, the Joan Mitchell Foundation and Robert Motherwell’s Dedalus Foundation.

Artist-led philanthropy is only expected to grow in the coming years, making the training of future leaders all the more important. “This little field is going to look really different over time,” Vincent says.

The AEFI expects to sel ect around 30 participants, including newly appointed directors and members of artists’ families who anticipate taking charge of their relatives’ legacies. Tuition for the seminar costs $2,950. Applications are due 11 March and can be submitted online.

Since AEFI was established in 2007, some of the biggest names in art, from Ellsworth Kelly to Cy Twombly, have died, leaving behind “significant bodies of work”, according to Vincent. “There is a changing of the guard taking place,” she says.