Sue Stoffel interview continued.
Carey: And so the artists that they’re collecting, they’re not just necessarily known artists, they’re also emerging artists or unknown artists?
Stoffel: They’re all emerging artists. I worked with a lot of the galleries on the Lower East Side on Manhattan who were once the directors of the major Chelsea galleries now and who are going out on their own and starting their own stables and they bring extraordinary institutional memory with them. And have built up their own expertise and I work with them and it also depends on the taste of each client. I never show the same client the same work. I get to know how my clients live and how they live in their own residences. I do everything from delivery, installation, lighting, framing, insurance, tax planning, loans, everything.
Carey: Wow, that sounds like you’d need another degree to learn all of that. That was part of what you’ve learned in Arts Administration?
Stoffel: Yes, very much so, very much so. It’s a fantastic program. It teaches you what everyone used to be doing by the seat of their palms. Curators used to become museum directors and now museum directors need an MBA.
Carey: And what school did you go to learn that?
Stoffel: Columbia, here in New York.
Carey: I’d like to talk a little bit now about fundraising as well. I know you’ve worked with organizations to help with fundraising. I’m not sure if you’re doing that anymore, are you still helping with fundraising?
Stoffel: Yes, on a project basis. If I can buy into the project and it’s well conceived and they thought of a budget and they know how much it’s going to cost, I’m happy to make a few phone calls and say, “I think this is where you might have your commitment.”
But fundraising is – Anne Pastenak taught me that, fundraising is about fit. It’s about the project and about the funder, and you can only know that after having done it for a long time. So you have 3 sources of fundraising. You have corporate, you have government and you have private. And so you need to have a good healthy mix of all 3 of them in order to successfully fund any projects.
She also taught me that it takes dollar to raise a dollar. And so you need to have some kind of tools first before you go out to other sponsors and potential funders for grants and say, “Look I’ve got this. It’s going to cost me this, I need you to underwrite a third.” And sometimes they say, “I’ll write a third.” I’ll write a tenth,” but that’s how you get projects funded on a case by case basis.
Carey: Is it possible for artists to use this paradigm? I know places like Creative Capital and others are beginning to suggest to artists that they could run their studios almost like their own nonprofit and begin raising monies for their activity. Is that something you would encourage or do you think it’s possible this idea of artists’ fundraiser for their project?
Stoffel: I have never heard of that.
Carey: Organizations, like the LMCC (Lower Manhattan Cultural Council) and some other new organizations that are coming up are offering artists fiscal sponsorships where they will act as the non-profit to accept the funds on behalf of the artist. So if the artist raises money or gets a commitment from a corporation or an individual to donate money to that project, it will go first to let’s say, in a case of the LMCC, to them and then they take a small percentage and write a check to the artist. Myself, and my wife and I are collaborative, when we raised some money we used Performance Space122 as our fiscal sponsor. Artists are using other organization as fiscal sponsors to essentially create their own fundraising platform.
Stoffel: I have a question back at you then. Is that fiscal sponsor responsible for the end product?
Stoffel: Did they oversee the end product?
Carey: No, I mean, they obviously want something to happen. Let’s say in the case of me working with Performance Space 122,, I’m responsible for communicating with that funder about the progress of it and what ultimately happens with it. The funder is really using Performance Space 122 as a way to donate to a 501(c)3 (a registered non-profit) so they get the appropriate tax off.
Carey: This is similar almost to Kickstarter which is like the 501(c)3. They’re not responsible for the end product and of course there is sometimes problems with project completion.
Stoffel: I did know that the LMCC place takes sponsorship but I thought there was only the quid pro quo or they would be given studio space or …
Carey: No. Now they’re just doing fiscal sponsorship because essentially it’s book work. It’s their bookkeeper, that is committing to accepting donations on the artists behalf and creating a separate section in their book to keep track of this project but artist that doing with local churches, it could be anyone with a 501(c)3 really
Stoffel: I’d like to know more about that, that’s an interesting model.