On Wednesday, June 24, the Gen Art organization will throw a benefit in honor of its 15th anniversary, titled “I Heart (Gen) Art.” Celebrities chairing the event include designers Zac Posen, Rebecca Taylor and Georgina Chapman, plus actors William H. Macy, and the Adrians Grenier and Brody. The event will feature an exhibition of works from more than 60 artists who have been associated with the foundation during its existence, as well as a silent auction of fashion. But the mood over at Gen Art is far from festive: The foundation, which has hosted the Gen Art Film Festival since 1996 and prides itself in supporting young emerging talent, is in dire financial shape.
“It’s been a very rough year,” said Ian Gerard, the company’s CEO. “Eighty percent of our revenue came from corporate sponsors, especially in the auto and financial sectors. These companies are at 30 percent of where they were a year ago.” The Web site of Gen Art’s home page is plastered with pleas for donations, imploring “Who Will Support the Next Generation of Talent?” and claiming that “Gen Art’s very existence is in jeopardy.” Mr. Gerard said he has been working hard to recoup recent losses, by cutting expenses “massively,” which has necessitated some layoffs, and creating four-day weeks for some remaining staffers.
This Wednesday’s party will be the company’s first benefit in over a decade. Mr. Gerard admitted to having had “a bit of a panic attack” in the weeks preceding the benefit. But “people make decisions much more last-minute these days,” he said with some optimism, “so we have sold 70 percent of our tickets in the last four days.”