Ford, Mellon Foundations Team Up for $5 M. Initiative Focused on U.S. Latinx Artists
Two of the country’s largest philanthropic organizations have joined forces for a new initiative that aims to bring visibility to Latinx art in the United States.
The Ford Foundation and the Mellon Foundation, together with the U.S. Latinx Art Forum (USLAF), have created the Latinx Artist Fellowship. Over the next five years, the foundations will put $5 million toward the fellowship program, with $3.75 million going to 75 artists in the form of $50,000 unrestricted grants and the remainder going to USLAF.
The inaugural cohort of 15 artists selected for 2021 represents a mix of artists from different generations (five are emerging, five are mid-career, and five are established). They hail from across the country—from New York to Los Angeles to Texas to Massachusetts—and represent a spectrum of diversity within the Latinx community.
Those 15 artists are Elia Alba, Celia Álvarez Muñoz, Carolina Caycedo, Adriana Corral, rafa esparza, Christina Fernández, Coco Fusco, Yolanda López, Miguel Luciano, Guadalupe Maravilla, Carlos Martiel, Michael Menchaca, Delilah Montoya, Vick Quezada, and Juan Sánchez. (More information on each artist and the overall initiative can be found here.)
“Giving each of the fellows $50,000 to do their work for a year will support them first and foremost, but with the power of the Mellon and the Ford foundations, this will bring visibility to this kind of initiative and we hope to encourage museums to get on board,” Adriana Zavala, an art historian at Tufts University and the director of USLAF, said in an interview. “We wanted to create a deliberate and intentional jury process so that the full diversity of the very complicated Latinx community could be represented from gender, gender identity, ethno-racial, class, geographic, and disability. This is how you build a sustained legacy by supporting artists at all phases of their career.”
To assemble the inaugural cohort, USLAF solicited dozens of experts in contemporary Latinx art to submit nominations for the grants. That process yielded some 200 names that were given to a jury of curators from the initiative’s six museum partners—Rita Gonzalez at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Marcela Guerrero at the Whitney Museum in New York, Mari Carmen Ramírez at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Cesáreo Moreno at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, Rodrigo Moura at El Museo del Barrio in New York, and Sylvia Orozco at Mexic-Arte Museum in Austin—plus one independent curator, the art historian Yasmin Ramirez.
The partnering institutions are a mix of three mainstream art museums and three contemporary art museums founded by Latinx people for their local communities. “The combination acknowledges the importance of community-based grassroots context for these artists, but it also insists that the mainstream needs to be listening,” Zavala said.
Traditionally, the Ford and Mellon foundations have not given grants directly to artists, but the pandemic changed that. Though the Latinx Artist Fellowship isn’t specifically Covid-related, it is part of an effort “to get money into the hands of artists, especially these generally under-resourced and highly overlooked artists that are commensurate with 20 percent of a population demographic,” Deborah Cullen-Morales, a program officer at the Mellon Foundation, said. “I see this as field-wide effort to draw the attention of others in philanthropy.”
The initiative is in part meant to rectify a larger inequity found in the philanthropic world. Rocío Aranda-Alvarado, a program officer at the Ford Foundation, said that, while designing this initiative, the foundations found that only around 2 percent of overall philanthropic giving goes to Latinx-focused organizations. (Nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population identifies as Latino/Latina/Latinx or Hispanic, and that number is expected to grow in the coming years.) In fact, funding for Latinx organizations in arts and culture has been decreasing since 2013, dropping from a high of $40.2 million that year to $13.2 million in 2019 (per the latest available figures), according to Hispanics in Philanthropy’s Latinx Funders data sets.
“We hope that other foundations join us in this effort, especially those that focus on arts and culture and in regions of the country that have large Latinx populations, to come along with us and think about how they can also be supportive of these really important issues,” Aranda-Alvarado said.
The Latinx Artist Fellowship announced today is the first of three parts in a program known as the Latinx Art Visibility Initiative. The other two parts, which will focus on supporting museums and academics, are still in development. For the museum-focused funding, Cullen-Morales and Aranda-Alvarado said the foundations hope to learn from the institutional partners that served on the jury for the artists fellowships and that it could include funding to support entry-level and mid-career positions focused on Latinx art as well as money for acquisition budgets for work by Latinx artists.
“We want to dig more deeply into what is needed to promote and ensure that Latinx artists are part of the DNA of our museums both on the community-rooted level and on the national-encyclopedic level,” Cullen-Morales said. “All museums that deal with U.S. art in this nation should be thinking about Latinx artists as part of their work.”
As part of the overall initiative, USLAF has also received funds to hire two full-time employees to administer the initiative: Mary Thomas, who will serve as director of programs, and Michelle Ruiz, who will be project coordinator for the Latinx Art Visibility Initiative. (Since its founding in 2015, USLAF has been an all-volunteer organization.) Over the course of the next year, USLAF will host programming with the six partnering museums to highlight the work of the 15 artists receiving grants.
Though Latinx artists are increasingly being included in major group exhibitions and biennials, Zavala said that progress is still slow in terms of institutional acquisitions and major solo surveys. “Mainstream institutions need to do the data research to understand how much of the collection is or is not representative of the diversity of the United States. That needs to be a crucial piece of this conversation.”
Zavala continued, “My sincere hope is that this initiative builds momentum and that others recognize the impact that this can have on building equity in the art world. That’s really what this is about. This initiative is an opportunity to educate.”
Insurance companies that specialize in HO and automobile insurance are rarely equipped to handle the specific needs of an “Art Collector.” The good news is that there are companies that write policies geared specifically for the fine art collector and agents who specialize in matching these policies with those who need them.
One of these agents is Houston-based Adrienne Reid, Vice President of Huntington T. Block. Adrienne has specialized in fine art insurance for over 15 years helping museums, galleries and collectors keep their art properly insured. Via email, Adrienne was kind enough to answer my many questions about the when, how, and whys of fine art collector insurance.
Here are her responses to my questions:
When should a person consider getting a separate policy for their artwork?
When you start growing your collection beyond just a couple of artworks, you should investigate insuring your art under a separate fine art policy. If you want broader and more specialized coverage for your art than what can be obtained from your homeowners insurance company, a fine art collectors’ policy is going to be a better option.
What are the advantages of having a separate fine art policy over listing your art on your scheduled personal property policy?
Generally speaking, a fine art policy includes coverage for breakage, flood, and mysterious disappearance – which are commonly excluded on a homeowner’s policy. The policy also typically extends to transit and other locations – which may not be the case on a homeowner’s policy. Make sure to read an actual issued policy to confirm what is covered. But by far the biggest advantage is having a specialized broker who is knowledgeable regarding fine art coverage and who will place the coverage with an insurer who uses fine art specialized adjusters in the event of a claim. A homeowner’s policy would send a general property adjuster, who may not know how best to handle a fine art loss or understand the implications of loss in value to artwork that can be restored.
What types of fine art policies are available?
For Huntington T. Block clients, both personal and corporate, we offer either a Scheduled (agreed value form) or a Blanket (current market value form) based on a client’s situation.
The Scheduled Form – The values on the schedule attached to the policy are the agreed values for coverage under the policy.
Pro: The amount insured is certain and does not go down if market prices fall
Con: If the value goes up, the insurer will only pay the scheduled amount. All new acquisitions and collection changes must be reported immediately and changed on the policy. Only the specific artworks scheduled on the policy are covered.
The Blanket Form – The policy limit is blanket over all locations. No schedule is attached to the policy, and no individual values are listed. Valuation is current market value.
Pro: Current market value can provide assurance in the event that artworks increase in value due to market conditions, for example, driven by popularity of an artist or genre, death of an artist, etc. All artworks owned by the collector are covered up to the policy limit with no per item maximum.
Con: If values go down, there is a possibility the insured will collect less than they paid for the item(s) because the valuation is based on current market values.
For both policies, collectors choose a deductible for their level of risk tolerance. A high deductible provides lower annual premium, but more out of pocket in the event of a loss. A low deductible has higher annual premium, but less out of pocket in the event of a loss.
Of the two types of policies, which is the most popular among your clients?
About 80% of our clients have chosen a Blanket Coverage policy.
Can you give an example of how you would determine which type of policy is best for a new client?
If a collector is actively acquiring and wants protection in case their artwork values go up prior to getting an updated appraisal – a blanket policy may suit them. If the collector is not actively acquiring and wants certainty in the value of the art insured on the policy – then a scheduled policy may suit them.
What types of questions do you ask a prospective client to determine if they need Fine Art insurance?
Do they have a collection of more than one or two artworks?
Do they plan to continue collecting?
What is the total value of the artwork?
Where is it located?
Do they intend to sell the collection in the near future (or is it part of an estate)?
When was the last appraisal done?
Do they have an inventory of the collection?
I know that most insurance is underwritten by third party companies. What do you need from a prospective client to get a premium quote?
When the collector determines that a separate fine art policy meets their circumstance, I send them an application. Once it is returned along with a copy of the most recent appraisal or collection inventory, I will send it on to several underwriters to get quotes.
How do you determine what underwriters to contact when looking for the best match for your client and what is the process of approaching the ones you feel would be the best fit for a quote?
This depends entirely on an insured’s location (are they in a catastrophic area?), the total value of the collection, and how quickly they need a quote turned around. Once I determine the underwriters, I submit to them the completed application, collection appraisal or inventory, and the quote specifications. As a broker, my role is to represent the client and identify underwriters for their coverage needs – and make sure that it is the most competitive premium available.
How many companies are out there that do Fine Art collection underwriting?
There are about eight insurance companies that have specific fine art underwriters in the United States.
Is there an average number of underwriters you would approach per client?
Generally, no more than three – unless there are issues with the submission – like claims history or catastrophic area, etc. Typically, once we receive an application, we know which underwriters to approach.
I understand that in most cases, fine art collection insurance is less expensive than scheduling the artworks on a homeowner’s policy. Can you provide a range of a percentage cost per year that each type of fine arts policy covers?
That is a tough question – because so much depends on the size and location of the art collection and the client’s claim history. HTB writes over 1,000 art collectors in the United States. In general, premium rates go down as the collection total value goes up.
Once insured, what is the most important thing a collector can do to protect their collection?
A good digitally stored inventory, and quality digital photographs of each artwork is paramount. These should be stored offsite and/or in the cloud so that in the event of a catastrophic loss, an insured has documentation to provide to the adjuster.
As with any insurance claim, the more information and documentation that you are able to provide the adjuster, the better. An adjuster may have a difficult time settling the appropriate payout for a claim if the collector does not have detailed information about the artworks. Making sure that the collector has updated documentation (that is accessible after a loss) is one of the most important things they can do to be prepared.
My research shows that there are a lot of companies offering fine art collection insurance based in London. Many of them will offer a quote to ensure a single artwork online by asking only three questions; your name, email address, and the value of the artwork you want insured. Can you comment on these companies?
I am not sure that a company would be in a position to offer a binding quote based on such limited amount of information. It may be an attempt to gather information for another purpose.
Once you have your fine art policy in place, what actions should you take after a loss; say a picture falls off the wall or your artwork is lost in shipment?
Tips for these two scenarios:
Art Falls Off the Wall
Take several photographs before moving the artwork. If safe to move, move artwork out of harm’s way. Determine extent of damage. Depending on the damage, it may not be desirable to file a claim. But it is always best to notify your broker of the damage so they can notify the insurance company. It is better to err on the side of reporting damage; claims can always be withdrawn if it is decided to handle the expenses out of pocket. Report to your insurance company
Artwork is Lost in Shipping
Notify the shipper and the insurance company. The insurance company will work with the shipper to investigate the loss. If the artwork is later received, keep the insurance company updated.
I think Adrienne pretty much covered what is important to know about obtaining a fine art collectors’ policy. However, I did want to mention two things to think about while applying for, and after your insurance is in force.
If your agent provides quotes from several underwriters, in addition to reviewing the cost, limits, and deductibles of each policy, be sure to ask your agent about any differences in coverage each provider is offering. Also, after the fine art policy you have chosen is in effect, if you have any artwork already covered by your personal inland marine policy that is now also covered under your new fine art policy, don’t forget to call your HO agent and have those works removed. You do not want to pay for double coverage and then have the company who covers your fine art insurance feuding with the company that covers your HO insurance about who is responsible for paying a claim.
An Interview with a Fine Art Insurance Provider
When you have made the decision to insure your art on a separate fine art collectors’ policy, the organizations that your agent contacts to request coverage options and premium quotes are known as insurance providers. These are the entities that underwrite the insurance and are responsible for paying any covered claims.
To better understand the role of the provider regarding fine art insurance, I emailed Katja Zigerlig, Vice President of Art, Wine + Collectibles Advisory with Berkley One, a Berkley Company. Through the insurance company subsidiaries of W. R. Berkley Corporation, Berkley One specializes in underwriting insurance for fine art and collectibles, as well as for high-end homes, autos, liability, and watercraft. Katja and her team were kind enough to furnish answers to my questions about the role of a fine art insurance provider.
Following are the answers to my questions:
What is a provider’s business relationship with the insurance agent?
As an insurance provider, Berkley One works very closely with independent insurance brokers and agents, whose role is to work with a client directly and advise him or her on their insurance needs based on risk exposure. Independent agents and brokers typically work with multiple providers to offer clients a range of insurance solutions that fit their needs.
What is the provider’s business relationship with a prospective client?
When an applicant who is looking for coverage contacts an agent who specializes in insuring fine art, their agent will begin working with providers such as Berkley One to obtain an insurance quote. To get the information that we need to provide a proper quote, we would, along with the applicant and agent, work together to get correct information about the applicant—including things like home value, elevation certificates if the applicant lives in a flood zone, appropriate legal documents when necessary, and a full schedule of artworks to be insured—to help make sure we can offer a solution that fits their needs.
Sometimes we get inquiries from applicants directly. When this happens, we will find out more information about the applicant and risk, then connect them with an appropriate independent insurance agent who then becomes their source for insurance advice.
Once an applicant becomes a client, then the provider is “on risk” (the insurance contract is now in force).
When an agent sends a provider a prospective client’s application and a request for a quote, what steps does the provider take to determine if, and under what conditions, they will offer a policy to cover the collection?
Assessing a risk exposure is called underwriting and is an important part of the insurance process. For personal collections, some major risk factors that a provider can consider are the physical location where the collection is kept, the nature of the collection, and the type of collector. For example, a million-dollar collection of paintings in a condo in South Beach, Florida has different weather exposures than the same collection in a house in St. Louis, Missouri. A collection of glass sculptures has a higher probability of breaking than a collection of paintings. Often, these risks can be mitigated, so knowing the protections in place for a collection is also important.
How does a provider determine how a premium is calculated? Would you please provide examples?
Information about risk exposure goes into an algorithm that determines a rate depending on the exposure. In the example above, the development of rates for an art collection in coastal Florida will be different from the development of rates for the same collection in the Midwest, as the exposure to hurricanes and tornadoes differ by geography. Collectors will be encouraged to provide as much information as possible about how their collections are cared for, as providers often file rating credits or discounts for higher levels of protection.
What is the practical difference between Blanket and Scheduled coverage for collectibles?
Scheduled coverage separately describes individual collectibles to be insured, allowing them to be covered with a specified coverage amount at the time of policy issuance. At the time of loss, where description and coverage amount are pre-determined, the adjustment of the claim may not need to include further descriptions or a post-loss valuation.
Blanket coverage is based off a blanket value that covers multiple artworks and is often used to cover lower-priced valuables. While there can still be a maximum limit per item, each piece of artwork or collectible is not scheduled separately. A collector should also be aware that when an insured has blanket coverage, in the event of a loss, descriptions, and valuation will need to be established. That process could be complicated where the loss event also resulted in the loss of the documentation of the items’ descriptions and values, as insureds are usually required to demonstrate proof the item had been in their possession before the loss. An independent agent is a great resource for advice in whether scheduled or blanket coverage makes sense for a specific collection.
When a claim is made, how involved is the agent with that process or is it all handled by the provider?
Claims are typically handled by a claims adjuster employed or retained by the provider. Some agencies have a dedicated claims department and want to participate in the claims process or advocate for the client, while others prefer a lower-touch approach. Both approaches are fine, and in either scenario, communication between the agent and the provider’s claims staff is important.
Would you describe the process that occurs from when a claim is made to when the insured receives payment for the claim?
Here is a concise answer on a complicated question: The fact set of every claim is different, so a claim investigation will be designed using an individualized and collaborative approach based on the claim being made. There are certain components of every claim that must be completed. For instance, coverage needs to be analyzed and compared to the cause of loss to determine coverage, exclusions, and limits. Depending on the size and complexity of the claim, this may include obtaining documentation and/or sworn statements. The adjuster needs to evaluate the claim based on the facts, coverage, and documentation to ultimately resolve the claim. Having open communication and collaboration between all parties can expedite this process.
Is there anything else you think is important for a prospective client to know about fine art collectors’ insurance?
Purchase the right amount of insurance with a reputable, financially strong insurance provider that understands fine art insurance and the kinds of claims that typically occur.
Bottom line, an insurance provider decides to bid on insuring your collection, or not, based on the algorithm they employ for assessing risk. The data used by these companies to determine acceptable exposure include factors such as where you live, how your collection is protected, what your collection consists of, and your claims history. If you are provided a bid, the premium is based on these factors. Different companies have different risk tolerances at any one time, which is why your agent may go to three providers to get a quote and only one will offer a policy.
A provider can reduce your premium by applying discounts. Two circumstances where these discounts can apply is if you choose a higher deductible or the collection is spread between multiple buildings or locations.
The one thing stressed by each specialist I interviewed was the importance of good collection record keeping and having a digital copy of those records kept away from the collection itself, especially if you have determined a blanket policy is right for your circumstance. Connie Butler told me that when a series of powerful tornadoes struck Oklahoma City some years back, she literally sat down and cried with clients whose homes were destroyed and their personal possessions were scattered across the neighborhood. She had to explain that, because they had no proof via written inventory or photographs to document what they had in their homes, their insurance company was unable to cover a great deal of the personal property they lost.
After thoroughly researching this subject for over two months, the one thing I would stress to everyone is the importance of reading the insurance contract, front-to-back. Pay strict attention to the main section headings and subheadings of where you are in the contract as they qualify everything that follows. If you have questions about what you are reading, it is best to make notes on the areas of the policy you do not fully comprehend. Then, ask your insurance agent to explain each area of confusion until you do. If they are unable to enlighten you, it is probably time to start looking for a different agent. It is important, as with any legal document that could have such a powerful impact on your life, to fully understand it, and how it covers your possessions.
If you have read each part of this article, you probably noticed that I asked the same question to each specialist. When I did, I kept all versions because, although the answers were technically the same, each was approached differently adding interesting nuances.
To reiterate what I said at the beginning of this article, my goal in writing it was to gain a general understanding of how art collectors insurance works. Each section was reviewed multiple times for accuracy and to be sure that a layman, such as myself, would understand the basics. During the process, if I was unclear about a term or concept, I would ask questions until it was. If you now know whether you need to cover your art collection under a separate fine art collectors policy or just feel better informed about the subject, I have more than achieved what I set out to do.