Donation News

“Game Changer” Sold for Health Charities

In May 2020, a black and white painting of a young boy sitting on the floor swooping a toy around, the action figure of a nurse in a superhero cape, appeared on the wall of Southampton General Hospital. The only spot of color is the archetypal red cross on her shirt. Nearby, in a waste basket, Batman and Spider-Man toys have been obviously cast aside for a greater hero.

Unlike most Banksy art, or most of what we think of as Bansky art, this painting, titled “Game Changer,” isn’t graffiti and it wasn’t a guerrilla effort. The framed painting was instead hung with the collaboration of managers of the hospital. But the secretive artist did leave a note.

“Thanks for all you’re doing,” the note that accompanied “Game Changer” read, addressed to all hospital workers. “I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if its only in black and white.”

Nearly a year later, being called a hero has taken a bitter taste in the mouth of most health workers. It was only ever lip service, as was proved whenever these heroes asked for more staff, for danger pay, or for more support. But the painting stayed up, and it did brighten people’s days. And hopefully now it can do more.

On Tuesday March 23rd, “Game Changer” sold at auction in Christie’s of London for 16.8 million pounds ($23.2 million), a record for Banksy’s art. According to the auction house, proceeds from the sale and “a significant portion” of Christie’s cut will be donated to fund health charities across the United Kingdom.

The sale, which was planned from the first donation of the painting, came on the one-year-anniversary of Britain’s first national lockdown. It also doesn’t leave the staff at Southampton empty-handed – a reproduction of the painting continues to hang in the same spot, complete with the original note.

Image: Shutterstock

Donation News The Power of Giving

Adorable, Amateur Pet Portraits Go Viral, Raising Thousands for Charity

It was a joke, when Phil Heckels, 38, posted a silly picture of his dog to Facebook with a £299 price tag in the caption. He’d only drawn it because he was trying to get his little boy to draw with him and make a thank you card.

It didn’t sell. “It was pretty crap,” Heckles says of it with self-deprecating humor. But it did make a bunch of his Facebook friends laugh. The marker-drawing of his black lab Narla was unpolished and cartoony, but expressive. By the end of the first day, he had seven commissions from friends wanting pet portraaits. And those requests kept coming in.

Heckels, who has a full time job in commercial real estate, soon gave in to peer pressure and set up a dedicated Facebook page as the artist “Hercule Van Wolfwinkle,” offering goofy pet portraits with googly eyes, giant heads, and Picasso’s grasp of where facial features go.

Then the internet did its strange thing, and his work went viral.

“I’m just having a laugh with it,” Heckels said. “People seem to be enjoying it and I’m certainly enjoying it.” He does his best to take each commission seriously, but not too seriously.

“I genuinely try quite hard to to try and draw them.”

As the commissions backed up and money kept coming in, Heckels decided to do something good with his strange flash of popularity – he set up a fundraiser for Turning Tides, a homelessness charity his family has always supported. With his art as backer’s gifts, the fundraiser has so far raised over £14,000 for the charity, or enough to provide over 280 nights of shelter.

If you want to get your own portrait, go ahead and contact his Facebook page, but there’s bound to be a wait. Acclaimed artist (his words) Hercule Van Wolfwinkle has more than 1000 pets in his queue already. But he’ll get to you as soon as he can.

Source: NBC 2

Donation News

Star-Studded Sing-a-Long Raises $5 Million for Historic Apollo Theatre

Since it first opened in 1934, the Apollo Theatre has been a hotspot for African American culture—particularly music. Its amateur night has been the starting point for many big names in music, including Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Bill Cosby, and Lauryn Hill. These days, the theater relies on generous donations to keep its legacy going. That’s why billionaire Ron Perelman’s seventh annual fundraiser is so important.

On August 20, Perelman’s “little barn in the Hamptons” was filled with big names from a variety of entertainment and business backgrounds, including comedian Chris Rock, singer/actress Jennifer Lopez, and private equity guru Henry Kravis.

Guests paid $10,000 to mingle among the stars and hear live music performances by Lionel Richie (who led sing-a-longs to his hits), The Roots, Gwen Stefani, and Joe Walsh. But there was a purpose beyond fun—to raise funds for the Apollo Theatre.

“We’ve got to break the divide between the haves and have-nots, the rich and the poor,” Perelman told his guests. “I think we can manage to do it with the arts….And the Apollo can do that better than any other institution I’ve been involved with.”

The theater that was to become the historic Apollo was built in Harlem, New York in 1913 by Jules Hurtig and Harry Seamon. The two burlesque operators ran it as Hurtig and Seamon’s New Burlesque Theater. In 1928 Bill Minsky bought the building and renamed it the 125th Street Apollo Theatre. Even though Harlem was becoming the epicenter of African American culture by that time, audiences and entertainers at the theater were entirely white.

That all changed on January 26, 1934, when new owners Sydney S. Cohen and Morris Sussman reopened the Apollo as a theater specifically meant to showcase black performance. Its “amateur night” became a popular feature, creating space for the first performances for many who went on to become big names in the music industry.

The Apollo is now officially a landmark building, drawing an estimated 1.3 million visitors every year.

Perelman’s annual fundraiser provides the Apollo with regular funds—this year, about $5 million—to continue its support of the African American art scene in New York.

Photo: Felix Lipov /


Street Art in San Francisco: Balmy Alley

Image: Via

In San Francisco, there are several clusters of murals or street art that have gained attention. Many of these exist in the Mission District. For the mural lover, Balmy Alley is one of the highest concentrations of murals, and it is steeped in history. The Alley is located between 24th St. and 25th St., and Treat St. and Harrison St., which is a short walk from a BART stop. The ally contains murals in a variety of styles and on a variety of topics from human rights to gentrification.

The history of Balmy Alley begins in the mid-80’s. During this time, the neighborhood was primarily Latino.  In the previous decade, a famous mural called Las Lechugueras had been painted by two women called Mujeres Muralistas. A couple of murals were painted in the area, but it was Ray Patlan who had the intentions for the area. He brought together a group of muralists to create a project in this ally. They wanted each garage door or fence to have a mural on it. The theme uniting the paintings would be the “celebration of indigenous Central American cultures, and protest of U.S. intervention in Central America.”

By September 1985, 27 murals had been painted thanks to the funding Zellerbach Foundation and paint donations from Politec Mural Paints. After its completion it received more publicity than any other murals in San Francisco and significantly affected the creation of La Lucha Continua Art Park in New York City.

Since then, other murals have sprung up in the same area on a variety of different themes while some of the older murals are being restored. The best way to visit this iconic area is by foot, either individually or on the tour with Precita Eyes Mural Arts. This is a great way to get some history behind some of the major murals. Either way, if you appreciate street art, Balmy Ally is a San Francisco must.

News The Power of Giving

How Art and Education Help Inmates

Providing artistic outlets and college-level education to United States prison inmates significantly reduces their chances of returning to prison, a study by Rand suggests. The study investigated how inmate education affected prisoner life post-incarceration and found that those inmates who were educated while in prison had a 43% lower rate of returning to prison than inmates that received no education. Classes like those offered through the Bard Prison Initiative, a rigorous program that inmates must apply and be accepted to, better prepare inmates for life after prison—and shows them that not only is there life after prison, it’s often better than life before.

Encouraging inmates to learn and to practice art helps rehabilitate them while also reducing their risk of repeat offenses. Because of programs like the J.C. Flowers Foundation’s Harlem Parolee Initiative (run by Chris Flowers), the Bard Prison Initiative, and other in-prison education opportunities like the Bedford Hills College Program, former inmates have a higher rate of success in life after prison than ever before. The Rand study found that the chance of finding employment after prison increased, and it also suggested that investing in inmate education is cost-efficient specifically because of the lowered rate of recidivism.

Educating convicts is one of the best ways to actually help them. Prison needs to be more than a place of punishment: it needs to be, at its core, rehabilitative, and education and art expression are necessary to that end. In a Huffington Post article, art expression in prisons is described as king: art “provides accomplishments, offers a different avenue for self-expression than violence, builds confidence, frequently leads to other areas of learning,” the article says. If inmates are able to express themselves better, as art allows them to do, they’re more comfortable and confident in taking other classes and in learning more.

Donnell Hughes, a graduate of the Bard Prison Initiative, speaks openly of the profound effect the education program had on his life. This particular initiative is very selective in whom it admits: hopeful students must pass an entrance exam and write multiple essays. NPR says that out of 550 applicants last year, only 100 were accepted. Hughes speaks especially fondly of the liberal arts education he received through the program, which covered “the Cold War to present-day European politics,” he says.

Hughes continues, “I’m in a position, because of Bard, to be able to really see the world in the way that I should have seen it years ago…it’s a little bit easier for me to navigate through society because of how Bard prepared me.” Not only does giving inmates access to different kinds of education help them express themselves, education also helps them create and shape the narratives they want their own lives to take. Critical thinking skills are useful for every person in any situation, and without them, forward progress cannot be expected. But by giving inmates the tools to think about how they want their lives to be, they are that much closer to living a fulfilling life outside of prison and outside of crime, and with any luck, the current prison population will begin to dwindle.

Donation News

Art Institute of Chicago Gets Largest Gift Ever

Great news from the Art Institute of Chicago: it has received the largest philanthropic gift in their history a few weeks ago!

According to the Chicago Tribune, a major private contemporary art collection with the value estimated at $400 million is being donated to the Art Institute of Chicago by local philanthropists Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson, in what the museum is calling the largest gift of art in its history. This is incredibly fortunate for the Art Institute, and will bring further recognition to the Art Institute and the entire city of Chicago.

Of the 42 total pieces, there are works from famous artists including Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, and many others spanning from 1953 to 2011. With 9 pieces from Andy Warhol, experts have claimed that it is one of the most significant collections of its kind in the entire world.

“It’s a powerful statement to have a collection of this international stature staying here in Chicago,” Robert Levy, chairman of the Art Institute’s board, told the Chicago Tribune. “It’s unbelievably exciting for the Art Institute, for the city of Chicago, for the entire art community of Chicago. It’s all good.”

The Art Institute will begin displaying the collection in its second-floor galleries of its Modern Wing beginning in January.

Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson boast a collection of 200 works that they keep in Aspen, Colorado. They are some of the top art collectors in the world, and great philanthropists as well.

At Philanthropic People, we thank these two philanthropists for their generosity!

What do you think of this wonderful donation to the Art Institute of Chicago? What is your favorite kind of art?

Organizations Resources

SPACE on Ryder Farm Merges the Arts and Philanthropy

Space on Ryder Farm
IMG: via Space on Ryder Farm

It’s every emerging artist’s dream: to have access to a space where they can hone their skills, be surrounded by other artists, and cultivate an environment dedicated to furthering their passion. SPACE on Ryder Farm is a nonprofit artist residency program that provides just that; co-founded by stage actress Emily Simoness, it’s a literal space devoted solely to supporting artists, free of charge.

According to its website, SPACE on Ryder Farm “supports artists by providing a workshop space singular in its ability to reinvigorate the artists’ spirit and their work.” Located on 130 acres of wooded area on Ryder Farm in upstate New York, SPACE holds artist residencies from June through October, offering a quiet, secluded, and inspirational locale for artists who participate in the nonprofit’s programs. The organization seeks to be “the answer to dormant creativity” by allowing participating artists the time and space to do what they love, free of the hassles and routines of daily life.

Emily Simoness, an actress and the Executive Director of SPACE is proud that the cultivation of the nonprofit happened in a remarkably organic, grassroots kind of way. While she admits that it is challenging to run a nonprofit organization, the rewards it offers hit close to home. “SPACE was, and still is, a grassroots effort,” Simoness recently told Forbes. “Because I was an actress at the time [I first started it], I was in the midst of a community of playwrights. At the beginning I reached out to a few of them and said, ‘would you like to spend a few days working on your new play at a farm an hour north of the city?’ They said yes. They then told a few friends and awareness spread,” of the way the organization really evolved into a true asset for artists in the area.

Says playwright Lauren Feldman, “SPACE gave me, well, exactly that. Room to move. Time to think. Support to create. SPACE is a place of nourishment and fodder – a place to make things you’ve been trying to grow for ages, a place filled with warm meals and fresh crops and approachable farmers and remarkably generous support,” of how SPACE on Ryder Farm has helped her and other artists to regain their footing or finish a project.

Learn more about SPACE and its impact by visiting

Organizations Resources

Doris Duke Foundation to Award $1.6 Million in Art Grants

Doris Duke
Doris Duke was a horticulturalist, art collector, and philanthropist.
IMG: via Twitter

The Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art (DDFIA) has recently announced grants totaling more than $1 million to help foster the public’s understanding of Muslim culture, through the arts. The DDFIA, a foundation supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, “announced grants totaling $1.6 million in support of arts-focused efforts to increase public understanding of contemporary Muslim societies,” reports Philanthropy News Digest. Now, eight United States nonprofit organizations will receive grants to assist them in the planning and execution of art-focused programs designed to engage target audiences.

Created in 1998 in accordance with Doris Duke’s will, DDFIA was formed to promote the studies and understanding of Islamic arts and cultures. Duke was an avid collector or Islamic art; her Honolulu home, known as Shangri La, continues to serve as a mecca of Islamic art and cultural artifacts, which the late DukeDoris Duke Charitable Foundation collected for nearly 60 years. 2,500 pieces are now showcased in Shangri La, a testament to the way Duke revered Islamic culture.

The recent announcement of arts grants is very much in line with Duke’s vision of sharing Islamic art and objects to broaden the public’s knowledge of Muslim culture. Grant recipients include Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture in Philadelphia, America Abroad Media in Washington, D.C., the Center for Asian American Media in San Francisco, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, La Mama Experimental Theatre Club in NYC, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, and Poets House in New York City. These cultural and arts institutions were selected based on their dedication to bringing Muslim culture to the forefront. Poetry, visual arts, media initiatives, and educational programs that focus on contemporary Muslim cultures will all be awarded significant grants to best build and foster programs that align with Duke’s vision.

Learn more about the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art by visiting the foundation’s website.

Organizations Resources

The Denver Art Museum Receives a Massive Gift from An Unlikely Art Collector

The Denver Art Museum Receives a Massive Gift from An Unlikely Art Collector
Denver Art Museum

At first glance, Frederic C. Hamilton may seem an unlikely fine art aficionado. After all, the philanthropist made his fortune in oil production and real estate, and is a most known for his business-related dealings. A lesser-known fact about Hamilton, who is widely considered to be one of America’s “oil pioneers,” however, is that he has served as Chairman Emeritus of the Denver Art Museum Board of Trustees for nearly three decades.

Recently, Hamilton donated 22 Impressionist landscapes to the Denver Art Museum, in what has become one of the museum’s most exciting new additions to its collection. The collective value of the donation, which came from Hamilton’s private art collection, hasn’t been formally appraised, but experts believe that it could amount to as much as $100 million. The gift is monetarily impressive, but the works by van Gogh and Cezanne are a priceless addition to the Denver Art Museum’s collection, which formerly contained no pieces by the two artists.

Denver Art Museum director Christopher Heinrich describes the magnitude of the donation, explaining how “This is a game-changing gift. […] We will have the biggest collection in the West of Impressionist art,” of what could potentially be the largest gift in the museum’s 120-year history. This is not the first time that Hamilton has donated to the museum; in 2006, he gave $20 million for a major expansion. It is the first time he has promised to donate actual works of art, which the museum will officially take possession of when he dies.

Hamilton is acutely aware of the significant impact this donation will have on the museum, and he justifies it by explaining, “Frankly, our museum is derelict in one significant area, and that is Impressionism.” The 22 artworks will allow the Denver Art Museum the same kind of reputation as world-class fine arts institutions, and as art critic Ray Mark Rinaldi explains, “A museum best known for its contemporary, Native American and Western art now has the responsibility – and possibility – of turning its fledgling Impressionism holdings into a world-class collection.”

Read more about the massive donation here.


Philanthropic People: Eli and Edythe Broad

Eli and Edythe Broad
Eli and Edythe Broad at an Art Museum Opening.
IMG: arcticpenguin via Flickr

Eli and Edythe Broad are lovers of art and culture, and are dedicated to social responsibility and to helping others in need. The husband and wife duo are lifelong philanthropists, with a net worth in the billions. By 2012, the Broads had given $3.5 billion to charities that benefit education, the arts, science, and the general public, and their multiple foundations are leaders in humanitarian work and monetary giving.

After spending many years engaged in entrepreneurial work with Fortune 500 companies, Eli Broad decided to retire from that line of work and focus all of his time and energy on philanthropy. His wife of 57 years, Edythe, couldn’t have been happier, and together, the couple has made a significant mark on various industries by giving back and proactively working to improve education, as well as the arts and sciences.

Because their desire to impact multiple civic arenas is so great, the Broads created not one, but four foundations that each focus on specific areas of humanitarianism. According to their overarching mission statement for the foundations, the goals the Broads have in mind include: “transforming K-12 urban public education through better governance, management, labor relations, and competition; making significant contributions to advance major scientific and medical research; fostering public appreciation of contemporary art by increasing access for audiences worldwide; leading and contributing to major civic projects in Los Angeles.”

Apart from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and the Broad Art Foundation, which have assets of $2.1 billion, Eli and Edythe also created sub-foundations that focus on science, education, and civic issues specifically. With a focus on the ways in which entrepreneurship can impact these areas, the Broads’ efforts have been particularly instrumental in advancing the arts and L.A.-based civic projects

One of the greatest recent achievements of the Broad Art Foundation is its creation of The Broad Art Museum, a new contemporary art museum built by Eli and Edythe on Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles. The museum is set to open in late 2014, and will be home to nearly 2,000 works of art from the Broads’ personal collections and their art foundation. This museum is an extension of the original vision the couple had of creating a massive lending library of contemporary artworks, and is a physical symbol of the tremendous work they have done to advance the arts in America.

From science and medical research funding, to education grants and arts-based philanthropy, there are few industries that have remained untouched by the Broads’ immense generosity. For more information on these lifelong philanthropists, visit The Broad Foundations online.