Life in the arts is never easy, especially in a bad economy. For some Jewish artists, it’s about to get a lot harder.
The Six Points Fellowship, a program of the Foundation for Jewish Culture that has given away some $1.26 million to artists over seven years, is shutting down its flagship New York fellowship program after the local Jewish federation decided not to offer it a new grant.
The program’s director, Rebecca Guber, will be leaving her position at the end of May and will be replaced in an interim capacity by Josh Feldman, its Los Angeles-based associate director.
“Six Points was revolutionary to be giving experimental, emerging artists really significant grants. It was the first time in the history of the Jewish community it had ever been done,” Guber said. “Without Six Points in New York and potentially in other places, it could be a huge loss for artists.”
Since 2006 Six Points has supported 30 artists in three “cohorts,” two in New York and one in Los Angeles. Each fellow received at least $40,000 over two years, split between a living stipend and a project grant.
The smaller Los Angeles branch, which has an independent funding stream, will keep running until the end of 2013. Its future after that is uncertain, although leaders hope it can continue indefinitely.
Ariella Goldfein, a UJA-Federation official, said it never planned to fund Six Points forever. The group is considering moving resources to support programs involved in Israel education and Jewish engagement, she said.
“There’s been a complete proliferation of new startup organizations, and it became very clear to us that very few of them are going anywhere near Israel,” Goldfein said. “That seemed to us like a very solid gap in the field, and so we’re picking that up and looking at that more closely.”
Besides providing financial help, Six Points in New York helped fellows with marketing, budgeting and other business skills. It also helped build a community of artists who were committed to exploring Jewish themes. The most recent New York program was a 65-person artist retreat called “Asylum,” which took place in March.