Bloomberg‘s Farah Nayeri puts the spotlight on London’s Outset Contemporary Art Fund. This isn’t an investment vehicle, though the two women who run it can’t seem to escape the argot of contemporary finance and deal-making. Its something between a art club and a museum committee. Let’s let Nayeri explain:
Outset, started in 2003 by Candida Gertler and Yana Peel, gives about 100 patrons access to the art world for 5,000 pounds a year. It uses the money to help museums fund acquisitions and enable artists to create new works. Tate shops at the annual Frieze Art Fair with Outset cash. The U.K. charity is helping boost individual giving to the arts, which surged 25 percent to a record 382 million pounds in 2007, according to the most recent data from the Arts & Business group, a U.K. charity that links cultural institutions with corporate givers. […] Since 2003, Outset has bought 72 works by 45 artists for Tate, many of the artists new to the collection, says Serota. Pawel Althamer’s “Untitled” (a portable room) was purchased at Frieze in 2007. Outset “encourages galleries to bring important works, which can then be seen at the fair and bought by the Tate,” says Serota, 63. […]
Gertler and Peel are complementary. Gertler, 42, is blonde, blue-eyed, and fine-boned; at our morning meeting in Notting Hill’s fashionable Electric Club, she wears a steel-gray satin blouse and gold designer jewelry. Born in Frankfurt to Romanian parents, she studied journalism and law. After a brief stint in TV, she moved to London in 1992 and started a family. She is married to real-estate investor Zak Gertler, who is worth 150 million pounds, according to the Sunday Times Rich List 2009 where he ranks 362nd out of 1,000.
Peel, 35, has long charcoal hair, dark eyes, and wears a red dress. Russian and raised in Canada, she graduated from the London School of Economics and was an executive director in equities at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. She now lives in Hong Kong with her husband Stephen Peel — head of Asia Emerging Markets at the buyout firm TPG Inc. — and 4-year-old son, traveling to London once a month. […]
Patrons lacked access to artists or curators beyond black- tie galas and gallery openings, Peel says. “A lot was being offered in the way of sales and social engagement, but no one had ever asked Jake and Dinos Chapman if they’d open up their doors and allow a group of 100 people to sit among their ‘Hell’ sculpture,” she says. Outset has since staged seven years’ worth of events, including dinner at sculptor Antony Gormley’s studio, and a trip to the Venice Biennale for perks including lunch with McQueen.
Today, Outset is less an events organizer than an active arts patron. Aside from its donor base, which generates 500,000 pounds worth of annual funding, Outset has a subset of 15 givers who provide one-off funding for new art, as they did with the McQueen work in Venice. Now, “it’s less about ‘What is my access?’ and more about, ‘What are we doing with this funding?’” says Peel, who defines Outset’s mission as “private funding for the public.”
Red-Light ‘Hoerengracht’ Heads for London, Courtesy of Outset (Bloomberg)