On Wednesday night, confronted by the weak economy and reduced funding from corporate sponsors, Gen Art held its first benefit in nearly a decade, appealing to its supporters and alumni for help. To bring them out and raise the much-needed funds for the nonprofit organization, the foundation solicited donations from its network of contacts—pulling in 70 pieces of artwork to sell and 28 items to auction off.
Hosted by Gen Art C.E.O. and founder Ian Gerard and chaired by an honorary committee that included designer Zac Posen and actor Adrian Grenier, the event drew approximately 1,300 designers, artists, musicians, and members to 7 W New York.
Keeping expenses for the night to a minimum, Gen Art event director Kaki Stergiou procured $12,000 worth of food from the caterer and booked the 34th Street venue at a heavily discounted rate. Campari provided liquor for the bar, and Café Bustelo, Kenneth Cole, and Aperture magazine gave items to fill the gift bags. To add some color to the spacious gallery-like site—and as a nod to the “I Heart Gen Art” theme—Stergiou chose a red color scheme, decorating cocktail tables with tall vases of red gerbera daisies, distributing heart-shaped cookies, and marking each painting or photograph sold with heart stickers.
The four-hour cocktail party raised approximately $30,000 from the sale of 30 pieces of art and earned around $100,000 from the tickets—bringing its total profit to more than $100,000. This sum, the first benchmark set by Gerard, will likely get the organization through the summer.
“The company is being very honest that they need help, that they need continued help and support,” Stergiou said. “Just the fact that the day after the benefit we got additional benefactors and additional donations is reassuring.” To bring in even more funds, Gen Art is placing the items that didn't sell at the event in an online shop on eBay, which will launch on July 1 and remain open through July 30.