New York, NY,
18:01 PM

Helen Frankenthaler Foundation Mobilizes $2.5 Million in Emergency Grants for Artists at Risk Around the Globe and For Cultural Heritage Conservation Efforts in Ukraine


$2M Multi-Year Grant to PEN America Includes Emergency and Resilience Support for Visual Artists 
in Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia as well as Those at Risk Globally

$.5M Grant to World Monuments Fund Launches Ukraine Heritage Response Fund 

"Unbreakable"New York, NY—April 6, 2022—As part of its ongoing commitment to address critical issues impacting contemporary artists and the arts, the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation is dispersing $2.5 million to international organizations leading efforts to protect artists at risk around the world and cultural heritage in Ukraine. Working with PEN America and World Monuments Fund, the Foundation has identified and addressed several core needs including emergency grants to artists, sustaining displaced and suppressed artists over time, and preserving both sites and collections important to cultural history. These new grants expand the Foundation’s efforts to advance social impact initiatives and sustainability within the arts, including its recent grants supporting COVID-19 relief and equity and access initiatives as well as its ongoing Frankenthaler Climate Initiative and Frankenthaler Climate Art Awards.

“Our mission calls us to promote greater public interest in and understanding of the visual arts. It is impossible to fulfill this mandate without being responsive to the needs of our times,” said Lise Motherwell, Board Chair of the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation. “As art and artists are caught in the crosshairs of conflict and crisis, it is imperative to preserve both the artistic freedom and cultural heritage that is being threatened around the world.”


The awarded grants include:

  • $2 million to PEN America to be split between two initiatives over the course of three years: 
    • The first, to launch Emergency and Resilience Funds for Visual Artists at risk in Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia in response to the current crisis, including grants covering basic needs as well as those helping artists to advance their creative work and bolstering the network of advocates, professionals, and resources available to them; and
    • The second, to deepen support for the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) program supporting artists globally who are threatened, endangered, or otherwise facing persecution due to their creative work or as a consequence of war and political crisis.

The Frankenthaler Foundation funding is the first to be allocated specifically to visual artists. Suzanne Nossel, Chief Executive Officer of PEN America, said: “We are profoundly grateful to the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation for enabling timely and targeted assistance to artists who face grave risks and disruption as a consequence of the Ukraine war. This transformational support will make possible direct financial support for artists working under enormous strain and danger, providing emergency funds to underwrite basic needs and enable them to sustain artistic practice. Additionally, this support will fortify the core work of our Artists at Risk Connection program and help us to continue to build and expand our global efforts on behalf of artists and artistic freedom.”

  • $500,000 to the World Monuments Fund to launch the Ukraine Heritage Response Fund that will provide immediate funding for the documentation of heritage sites and support of cultural professionals protecting their collections, both on-site and digitally, and catalyze longer-term recovery and conservation projects. Bénédicte de Montlaur, President and Chief Executive Officer of WMF noted, “With the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation’s leadership support, World Monuments Fund is able to intervene quickly in Ukraine—which is the most essential element of emergency response to crises of this scale and nature—and provide early recovery actions to document and recover cultural heritage. Moving forward, the Ukraine Heritage Response Fund will work to help restore key symbols of local cultural identity, while building resilience in heritage management and protection.”

“Artists are powerful and essential drivers of change. Their work illuminates the here and now, and chronicles the present for the future. It holds humanity accountable to itself. The Frankenthaler Foundation is proud to support artists and those who sustain the visual arts in the face of authoritarian rule and humanitarian disaster,” stated Clifford Ross, Board Member and former Board Chair of the Foundation.

Added Fred Iseman, President of the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation’s Board of Directors, “Being a visual arts foundation does not confine our philanthropy to the salon or to the academy. While we are keenly focused on the creation and dissemination of art, we know that art has always been a palimpsest on which the world writes its pains and dreams. Take Helen. She loved Gericault and Manet. In The Raft of the Medusa and The Execution of the Emperor Maximilian the real world brutally intrudes onto the canvas. So brutality intrudes into museums, artists, and arts. When it does, we cannot turn our backs.”

Image Credit: "Unbreakable", photo by Yuliana, a Ukrainian photographer and artist. Instagram: @yuliana_nft

About Helen Frankenthaler Foundation  
Established and endowed by Helen Frankenthaler during her lifetime, the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation advances the artist’s legacy and inspires a new generation of practitioners through a range of philanthropic, educational, and research initiatives. Since becoming active in 2013, the Foundation has continued to strategically expand its program, which includes organizing and supporting significant exhibitions of the artist’s work, fostering new research and publications, advancing educational programs in partnership with arts organizations around the world, and launching groundbreaking initiatives that foster systemic change in the field. As a primary resource on the artist, and a steward of her collection and archive, the Foundation holds an extensive selection of Frankenthaler’s work in a variety of mediums, her collection of works by other artists, and original papers and materials pertaining to her life and work.