Non-Profit Contemporary Arts Organization Will Depart Corcoran Gallery of Art in December
The Board of Trustees of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Advisory Board of Directors of the Washington Project for the Arts\Corcoran (WPA\C) announce the formal separation of the two organizations as of December 31, 2007. The WPA\C is a 501(c) 3 artist-based organization that works to promote contemporary art in the greater Washington, D.C. region through a variety of exhibitions, programs and events.
The Corcoran’s Board of Trustees and the WPA\C Advisory Board have agreed that their 11-year partnership has been highly beneficial and successful for both, and that the strategic visions of each dictate that independent and non-formal association will yield continued success for each. Over the past 18 months, both organizations have been engaged in extensive strategic planning, with the Corcoran focusing its attention on uniting its gallery and College, while the WPA\C has been planning a return to its “grass roots” foundation and a focus on programming and outreach from within the community that started the WPA in 1975.
“The success and strength of the WPA\C today is due in large part to the support and guidance provided by the Corcoran over the past 10 years,” explained WPA\C Advisory Board Chair Jennifer Motruk Loy. “Today, the WPA\C is on strong footing and has gained a reputation as a vibrant, dynamic, and authentic leader in contemporary arts in the greater D.C. area. Our efforts will only grow stronger in our new position as an independent organization, through which we can increase our visibility and become better poised to continue our mission.”
“The mission behind each of our respective organizations has been more clearly defined over the last year,” said Corcoran Director and President Paul Greenhalgh. “We are proud and pleased to see the WPA\C reach new heights and grow to become more autonomous and fill a necessary connection to working and under-recognized artists.”
“There always will be a connection between our organizations as there will always be a vibrant culture of regional arts in Washington, D.C.,” said Jeanne Ruesch, Chairman of the Corcoran’s Board of Trustees. “We look forward to the continued and future success of the WPA\C.”
The WPA\C has been functioning and growing under the umbrella of the Corcoran Gallery of Art since 1996, when the Corcoran generously opened its doors to the struggling organization, and was officially named WPA\Corcoran. This partnership united the independent spirit and regional focus of the former WPA with the institutional strength, profile and historical perspective of the Corcoran. Assuming approval from the Corcoran’s Board of Trustees at a meeting in late September, the final steps in the transition of the WPA\C to the WPA will be confirmed and, by the end of the year, the WPA will relocate to new offices in the Dupont Circle area.
WPA\C Executive Director Kim Ward described the separation as an opportunity to continue to grow and build on the group’s reputation and recognition as an alternative destination for fine and contemporary art to the larger, more recognizable art institutions found in the region. “We are excited at the prospect of being back in the community of artists and audiences that we’ve worked so hard to develop, where we’ll be more visible, more accessible and more available to serve our members and the public,” she said.
With an administrative office but no dedicated exhibition space inside the Corcoran, the WPA\C made the most of its mission through programs, exhibitions and events in borrowed spaces from storefronts to other gallery partnerships and, occasionally, at the Corcoran. Over the past 11 years, the membership base has grown from approximately 300 to a mix of more than 1,000 artists. The organization’s general audience exposure via exhibitions, performances, gatherings and virtual exhibitions extended to more than 50,000 in the past year.
In 2006, the WPA\C added highly successful virtual programming to its roster with online exhibitions, calls for entry in programs and, later this year, with the launch of the ArtFile Online, a comprehensive collection of more than 1,000
artist members’ portfolios in a variety of media developed by the organization and available on the world wide web. The ArtFile Online is a resource for curators, collectors, consultants, writers, critics and students.enabling all to see the works of regional artists and contact them directly to learn more, purchase, or select works for future exhibitions.
“Through the challenges and growing pains of this organization, we are grateful for the strong ties and the bridges of support that we’ve built with the Corcoran and with all of our partners through the region,” Ward said. “We have learned how to be nimble, creative and very resourceful, so having larger space with our logo on the door, where we can be fully dedicated to our mission will enable us to be a destination space for D.C. artists and supporters.”
The partnership between the WPA\C and the Corcoran Gallery of Art yielded many unique and distinctive events and programs over the last 11 years. These projects include the Annual WPA\C Art Auction, the exchange of faculty, curators and artists from within the institution, and the ongoing WPA internship program that has included students from the College. Upcoming events and programs for WPA\C include OPTIONS 2007, a biennial exhibition showcasing the best of new and unrecognized artists in the greater Washington, D.C. region, opening on Thursday, September 13 at Pepco’s Edison Place Gallery in downtown D.C. This year’s OPTIONS exhibition is curated by Paul Brewer, Director of the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art in New York, and will include works by 10 area artists. The season continues with monthly ongoing 9x10 WPA\C member exhibitions at the William W. Parker Gallery located at 629 New York Ave. NW, which continues through January 2008, and in March 2008, the WPA will host the 27th art auction fundraiser, a very “non-Washington” gala event and silent auction that helps to support operational and programming efforts. Further details regarding the WPA\C’s separation from the Corcoran Gallery of Art will be discussed at the WPA\C Annual Meeting, October 29th, 6:30 pm at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. This event is free and open to the public.
WPA\Corcoran is an independent, non-profit 501c(3) organization whose mission is to promote excellence in contemporary art in the region by presenting experimental exhibitions and performances, stimulating dialogue between emerging and established artists, and involving artists in educational programs that benefit local residents. For more information, visit www.wpaconline.org.
ABOUT THE CORCORAN
The Corcoran Gallery of Art, a privately funded institution, was founded in 1869 as Washington’s first and largest non-federal museum of art. It is known internationally for its distinguished collection of historical and modern American art as well as contemporary art, photography, European painting, sculpture and the decorative arts. Founded in 1890, the Corcoran College of Art + Design is Washington’s only four-year college of art and design offering BFA degrees in Photojournalism, Digital Media Design, Fine Art, Graphic Design and Photography; AFA degrees in Digital Media Design, Fine Art, Graphic Design and Photography; a five-year Bachelor of Fine Arts/Master of Arts in Teaching (BFA/MAT); and a two-year Master of Arts (MA) in Interior Design or History of Decorative Arts. The College’s Continuing Education program offers part-time credit and non-credit classes for children and adults and draws more than 2,500 participants each year.