AEF Consortium Advancing Next-Gen Leaders in the Visual Arts
The AEF Consortium Advancing Next-Gen Leaders in the Visual Arts is a national collaborative of Artist-Endowed Foundations (AEFs) whose members provide paid summer internships/fellowships to college students interested in careers in the visual arts that come from backgrounds under-represented in the visual arts field. Through the Consortium, students’ individual project-based learning experiences with their host AEFs are enhanced with collective educational, professional development, and mentoring programming that supports the evolution of their personal life/learning path.
The Consortium is a project of the Aspen Institute Artist-Endowed Foundations Initiative | AEFI, a learning community of AEF leaders seeking to increase the charitable impact of their foundations’ programs in art stewardship and cultural philanthropy. It is conducted in partnership with four programs committed to facilitating internships/fellowships that advance opportunities for students from backgrounds under-represented the visual arts, including those with financial need and those from diverse communities: ArtTable Fellowship; Atlanta University Center (AUC) Art History + Curatorial Studies Collective; Getty Marrow Internship; and Studio Institute Arts Intern. These four programs collaborate with the Consortium’s individual AEF members to place students in paid summer internships.
Operating as a three-year national demonstration project, 2023-2025, the Consortium counts 13 AEF members during its first year as a pilot and 24 AEF members in the following years. 2023 Consortium members include: Andrews-Humphrey Family Foundation (Benny Andrews), NY; Romare Bearden Foundation, NY; Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, NY; Renee and Chaim Gross Foundation, NY; Harpo Foundation (Ed Levine), FL/VT; Al Held Foundation, NY; Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, CA; Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, NY; Reversible Destiny Foundation, (Arakawa and Madeline Gins), NY; Carolee Schneemann Foundation, NY; Tarot Garden (Niki de Saint Phalle), Italy; The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, NY; and Woodman Family Foundation (Betty, Francesca, George), NY. While they engage individually in project-based learning with their respective host AEFs, interns and fellows participate in collective programming designed to broaden their educational experiences and expand their awareness of professional development opportunities. They do this as a national peer cohort that meets for a weekly online course about the AEF field, its professional practices, and the associated art professions that are central to its operation – An Introduction to the Artist-Endowed Foundation Field and its Allied Art Professions.
The course’s classes, all virtual, feature:
- Site visits to AEFs across the country to explore varied types of foundation programs — artist residencies, study centers, art collections, grantmaking, exhibition spaces, education
- Discussions with a variety of AEF staff about their roles, professional practices, and career paths, including curators, archivists, scholarly researchers, digital content managers, nonprofit business managers, grant program managers, residency directors, intellectual property managers, etc.; and
- Conversations with art professionals collaborating with or providing services to the AEF community, exploring their roles and career paths, including art gallery directors, art writers, conservators, art insurance brokers, art appraisers, art museum curators, art law attorneys, etc.
Post engagement, intern and fellow alums participate in a Life/Learning Path Workshop held online each fall facilitating connections with the AEF community’s network of art professionals that serve as mentors and advocates. They also attend networking opportunities during AEFI’s two online national biennial spring programs, the AEF Leadership Forum and the Seminar on Strategy for AEF Leaders.
Three key research findings spurred creation of the Consortium, including evidence that: (1) higher education now incorporates internships as a required component of the pedagogical process in most professional fields, including in the visual arts; (2) the still widely-accepted practice of unpaid internships excludes many students from these critical educational opportunities, particularly students with financial need as well as those from diverse communities lacking connections with gatekeeping socio-economic networks; and (3) perhaps not surprisingly, the leadership ranks of the visual arts continue to be dominated by individuals from a narrow range of backgrounds, effectively limiting the field’s capacity to serve an increasingly heterogeneous public. In response, the Consortium aspires to demonstrate how this inequitable system might be re-balanced through collaborative action by like-minded cultural institutions.
The Consortium’s commitment to equitable practice is bolstered by online professional development workshops for AEF staff serving as supervisors/mentors for interns and fellows, online workshops in equitable leadership for AEF leaders/leadership teams, and the use of tailored evaluation strategies to capture and share learning among all of these cohorts with a goal to increase effective equitable practice and successful hosting of interns and fellows.
Please direct questions about opportunities to participate in or help support the Consortium Advancing Next-Gen Leaders in the Visual Arts to Christine J. Vincent, AEFI Project Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org