As the coronavirus crisis continues to escalate across the United States, museums and art organizations have begun rallying to mitigate devastation in the cultural sector and beyond. The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and other institutions have donated protective equipment to local hospitals, and the New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) has been campaigning for financial relief for galleries.
The latest art institution to join in the nationwide effort is the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD), which has created an online marketplace through which artists based in the Detroit area can sell their work. The museum’s Emergency Rapid Response Fundraiser, for which the City Office of Arts, Culture and Entrepreneurship serves as a partner, was developed in response to the needs of artists’ whose livelihood is impacted by the outbreak.
Selected artists can sell a single piece of art on the platform and split the profits of the sale evenly with the museum. Buyers will be responsible for arranging shipments. Works by Nadia Alexis, Sofia Henriquez, Lucas Foglia, Jim Chatelain, and others are currently available.
In an interview with ARTnews, MOCAD chief curator and executive director Elysia Borowy-Reeder said that the initiative came together in recent weeks when museum staffers were brainstorming solutions for artists with canceled exhibitions, talks, and other means of income. “Rent is due” became an often repeated refrain in those meetings among MOCAD workers from various departments, who believe that if artists can’t maintain their studios or continue to make work, “then the community loses its vibrancy,” Borowy-Reeder said.
“We have all these great connections with artists, and we were watching our friends and our community get hit really hard,” Borowy-Reeder added of the impetus for the initiative.
The new sales platform, which launched on March 27, will showcase works by local artists through April. Borowy-Reeder said that the initiative “is going to be a sustained effort,” with pieces by artists living and working in other locations in the U.S. going on sale in May.
Artists who wish to be included in the fundraiser should send one sample of their work to MOCAD membership manager Wayne Northcross.