Gen Art is ostensibly a nonprofit organization dedicated to "showcasing" designers, filmmakers, and artists by throwing hipster parties and film festivals. Not quite Amnesty International, but whatever. But one pissed-off tipster tells us Gen Art is mismanaged, and deserves death.
Yesterday Variety reported that the financially "struggling" Gen Art has been rescued by merging with event production biz Rock Media, which will help it with its debts. But our tipster says that many of the group's problems are of its own making. We've emailed Gen Art for their response and we'll update when they write us back.
Gen Art is a good example of those huge, shiny organizations with vague "good" purposes that were able to attract a lot of sponsorship money during the boom years—partially because supporting them was fun. So many events! "Gen Art produces over 100 events annually ranging from media generating high profile programs including a week-long film festival to star-studded fashion shows to the Vanguard Art Fair during Miami Art Basel, to more intimate programs such as art receptions and tours, film screenings and live music showcases."
You can showcase your brand and go to Art Basel and star-studded fashion shows and it is all for a "good" cause! The recession is killing lots of groups like this. The shine is no longer a good thing. Here's one angry insider's rant:
Gen Art ran out of money long before the economic crisis. The return of Stefan Gerard, brother of CEO Ian and co-founder, plunged the company into mismanagement in 2007 and vendors stopped being paid in early 2008.
Sponsors started dropping like flies soon after.
SF office was closed and 25% of staff laid off at the beginning of 2009. A month later, Miami and Chicago closed, more layoffs, and the rest of the staff got 10% pay cuts. When paychecks didn't come through on June 1, CEO Ian Gerard emailed staff from his Hamptons house. Actually, they could have paid staff if the two execs (the Brothers Gerard) has foregone their own paychecks, but it turns out they never even took pay cuts themselves.
A few weeks later, about 10 more employees were furloughed (and laid off in August - via email), the remaining staff (we're down to about a dozen now) being the highest paid, inexplicably. The VP of Events was allowed to receive her full time salary while producing a separate event for a former Gen Art sponsor, earning a double paycheck.
Remember the much-promoted Gen Art benefit in June? Pretty much tax fraud, since Gen Art isn't actually a non profit. The Gen Art Foundation, the nonprofit status arm, has only one mission - to support emerging artists. Funny how the filmmakers who won the Gen Art Film Fest way back in April haven't even been paid yet, even though sponsor Acura paid Gen Art in full. No wonder 7 of the celeb hosts didn't even show up. Gen Art's reputation among the filmmakers, artists, musicians, and designers it's supposed to support is abysmal.
Gen Art deserves to die. It doesn't support artists, it supports wannabe socialites who need another party to be seen at. Hopefully people will realize this and give their money to a real charity.
Regardless of the details, this goes to the larger point: Why not give your "Charity" money to, ya know, UNICEF?