Kamau Amu Patton, TEL, 2020. Newsprint, Digital Video.
Kamau Amu Patton, TEL, 2020. Newsprint, Digital Video.

Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts 2021 Organizational Support Grants Announced

LOS ANGELES, CA. (February 4, 2021) — The Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts announced today the eighteen recipients of its first Organizational Support Grants. For 2021, this new initiative replaces the organization’s Artist Project Grants in order to address the immediate needs of Los Angeles arts organizations contending with the devastating effects of COVID-19. These grants provide unrestricted funding of up to $30,000 to help organizations maintain their daily operations and continue their invaluable work during this period of uncertainty. The Organizational Support Grants further Mike Kelley’s philanthropic mission and honor his legacy by supporting organizations that are committed to risk taking, critical thinking, and provocation in the arts.

The grantees are the Center for Land Use Interpretation; Center for the Study of Political Graphics; Coaxial Arts Foundation; Clockshop; Echo Park Film Center; Future Roots Inc. DBA dublab ; Human Resources LA; Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (ICA LA); Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions; Los Angeles Filmforum; Los Angeles Poverty Department; Museum of Jurassic Technology; Pieter Performance Space; Poetic Research Bureau; Side Street Projects; Society for the Activation of Social Spaces through Art and Sound; Vincent Price Art Museum Foundation; and Women’s Center for Creative Work.

These small and mid-size institutions represent a wide range of disciplines including performance, poetry, multimedia art, experimental music, and archives. "We are struck by the resilience and flexibility of so many arts organizations and artists during this devastating time,” said Mary Clare Stevens, Executive Director of the Foundation. “Each one of these organizations has helped shape the unique arts landscape in Los Angeles. In the face of cancelled and delayed exhibitions, performances, and fundraising events, we hope that this support will help the grantees navigate this next chapter.” "We are incredibly grateful to receive a grant from the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts during this very destabilizing period. This kind of overarching support is desperately needed to keep people employed and to help small arts organizations weather the months to come,” remarked Sarah Williams, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Women’s Center for Creative Work, a grant recipient. “Relief funding of this nature is doing a lot to ensure a meaningful arts landscape on the other side of the pandemic.”

The 2021 grantees were selected through an application process by an independent panel that included Erin Christovale, Associate Curator at the Hammer Museum; artist Todd Gray; artist Tala Madani; Sohrab Mohebbi, Kathe and Jim Patrinos Curator of the 58th edition of the Carnegie International and Curator at Large at SculptureCenter; and Diana Nawi, Co-Artistic Director of Prospect.5, New Orleans. Six of the eighteen organizations are first-time recipients of support from the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts. “We adjusted the nature of our grants this year in response to our community’s most pressing needs—these vital spaces can be difficult to keep afloat financially even in the best of times—and we will remain flexible and in dialogue with our grantees past, present, and future,” said Stevens.

"During this time, this grant means that our mission can continue undisrupted. dublab, an organization that at its core connects the community through the democracy of radio transmission, believes that it is more important than ever to maintain the reliability of our work to all who reach for it as a means of connection, information, and inspiration,” added Alejandro Cohen, Executive Director of grantee dublab.

In 2020, the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts also contributed to the fund Artist Relief, which was formed to provide immediate relief for artists affected by COVID-19, stimulate artist wellness support systems, and learn about artists’ needs for future resource and advocacy development. The fund was spearheaded by a coalition of national arts grantmakers consisting of the Academy of American Poets, Artadia, Creative Capital, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, MAP Fund, National YoungArts Foundation, and United Artists. Additionally, the Foundation was part of a cohort of supporters for the Relief Fund for L.A. County Visual Artists. The effort was led by the California Community Foundation together with the J. Paul Getty Trust, in collaboration with a coalition of artist-endowed foundations to support local artists who are struggling as a result of the pandemic.

About the Foundation

The Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts advances the artist’s spirit of critical thinking, risk taking, and provocation in the arts. Established by Kelley in 2007, the Foundation seeks to further Kelley’s philanthropic work through grants to arts organizations and artists for innovative projects that reflect his multifaceted artistic practice.

The Foundation also preserves the artist’s legacy more broadly and advances the understanding of his life and creative achievements through educational initiatives including exhibitions, events, publications and the preservation and care of the Foundation’s art collections and archives.

About the Artist

The work of artist Mike Kelley (1954–2012) embraced performance, installation, drawing, painting, video, sound works, and sculpture. Kelley began his career in the late 1970s with solo performances, image/text works, and gallery and site-specific installations. He came to prominence in the 1980s with a series of sculptures composed of common craft materials. The artist’s later work addressed architecture and filmic narratives using the theory of repressed memory syndrome coupled with sustained biographic and pseudo-biographic inquiry into his own aesthetic and social history. Regarded as one of the most influential artists of our time, Kelley produced a body of deeply innovative work in dialogue with American popular culture as well as both modernist and alternative traditions.