Artist Trust Receives Largest One-Time Gift to Grow Long-Term Investments in Artists with Two New Fellowship Awards, Including First for Black Artists
Published: October 26, 2021
Artist Trust announces two new Fellowship Awards as part of our work to advance art and equity, one of which focuses on Black artists. The Fellowships will be permanently funded, thanks to a generous $500,000 gift from gallery owner Greg Kucera and Larry Yocom.
The two new Artist Trust Fellowship Awards, each offering an unrestricted grant every year in perpetuity, include the Greg Kucera & Larry Yocom Fellowship Award, for Washington State artists of any background, and the Artist Trust Fellowship Award for Black Artists, believed to be one of the first awards of its kind with a permanent funding source nationally. The addition of these two new awards will enable Artist Trust to offer fifteen $10,000 Fellowship Awards for Washington State artists in 2022, the most in the organization’s history.
Artist Trust Board of Trustees President Cezanne Garcia said, “We are honored to be able to offer these two new awards at such a critical time for Washington State’s artist community. We are especially grateful to Greg and Larry for helping create a long-term funding opportunity for Black artists at Artist Trust, an important step for our organization, and our sector. This gift, combined with Artist Trust’s ongoing fundraising efforts, will allow us to continue to provide increased support for our region’s artists – through the pandemic and beyond.”
Seattle artist Anthony White, who is represented by Greg Kucera Gallery and is an Artist Trust Fellowship recipient, stated, “As a Black queer artist who has benefitted from the direct support and generosity of both Artist Trust, and Greg Kucera and Larry Yocom, I see this generous gift as a reflection of their dedication to artists in this region. This form of long-term support for artists of all backgrounds, but especially Black artists in Washington State, is encouraging and motivating. There is no doubt in my mind that their donation will positively impact the community and region as a whole. This gesture is one of many that show the determination and dedication Greg and Larry both have for artists and their success. This is an inspiring promise, and I am very grateful to know them.”
Seattle artist Margie Livingston, whose relationship with Kucera and Yocom goes back more than twenty years, said, “I’m delighted but not really surprised to hear that Greg and Larry are establishing endowed fellowships. It’s totally aligned with their generous natures. By creating this gift for the artists of the future, Greg and Larry are modeling how to leave a place better than you found it.”
It was of particular importance to Kucera and Yocom that their gift provide long-lasting support for artists.
Greg Kucera and Larry Yocom on the back deck of Greg Kucera Gallery. Photo by Laura Komada.
“We want to support Artist Trust for the long run,” the donors said. “We encourage our community to see the vital role Artist Trust plays here and join us in any way possible – including donating additional funds to match ours. There is no organization we believe in more than Artist Trust. Rather than wait until later in our lives, we put forth our gift now as part of our long-range estate planning. We give these funds with gratitude and appreciation in support of artists.”
Generous Artist Trust donors Greg Kucera and Larry Yocom at their first gallery in 1986, the year Artist Trust was founded. Photo by Mike Seidl.
Kucera’s and Yocom’s gift to Artist Trust is the largest private gift by individual donors ever given to the organization at one time. The donors said they wanted to return value to the community of artists that has surrounded them and their businesses for nearly 40 years in Seattle. Greg Kucera Gallery is being bought by two of Kucera’s employees over the next several years. Gallery Frames, Yocom’s frame shop, was bought in 2014 by one of Yocom’s employees. Together, these two Pioneer Square businesses created a vibrant community supporting artists and advancing their careers locally and nationally.
Kucera and Yocom have a long history of supporting artists through Artist Trust – going back to 1986, almost the entire life of Greg Kucera Gallery. The opening night of the gallery’s 1989 “Taboo” show and various book sales over the years benefited Artist Trust. Kucera and Yocom have made donations to Artist Trust’s art auctions and bought from the auctions, too. Yocom’s frame shop built many frames for works in the auctions as in-kind donations.
“When we married in 2013, we made Artist Trust our ‘wedding registry’ for donations in our honor,” they said. “We’ve made personal donations almost annually in good times and bad. And we plan to continue to do so.”
Artist Trust’s Garcia said, “As our region continues to move through one of the most tumultuous periods in memory, the need to grow additional support systems for artists – especially those who have faced historical and structural barriers to funding and resources – remains critical. This foundational support from Greg and Larry will help accelerate that work, and we hope that our community will join them in making a gift in support of artists now.”
Artist Trust is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to support and encourage individual artists working in all disciplines to enrich community life throughout Washington State. Since its founding in 1986, Artist Trust has invested more than $11 million in individual artists through its grants and professional-development programs. As a fundraising organization, Artist Trust relies on numerous individuals and community partners to make its support for artists possible each year. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, Artist Trust has raised and distributed $900,000 in relief funds to more than 530 artists throughout 22 Washington State counties, 70% of whom identified as BIPOC. In 2021, the organization reimagined its longstanding funding program GAP as Grants for Artists Progress, a regional award centering Black and Indigenous artists working in Washington State. A total of nearly $100,000 will reach 65 artists through this program in December, 100% of whom are BIPOC. Learn more at artisttrust.org.