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Tens of Millions of Dollars in PPP Loans Went to NYC Museums, Art Galleries, and Orgs


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The boarded up entrance to the Whitney Museum of American Art (photo by Hakim Bishara for Hyperallergic)

At the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic, Congress allocated $350 billion for small business loans to mitigate the financial havoc wreaked by the crisis. Known as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the rescue package was meant to help small businesses of 500 employees or less retain their staff. Hyperallergic combed through public loan data from the Paycheck Protection Program made available by the Small Business Administration (SBA) and highlighted below notable instances of taxpayer dollars funneled to arts museums, commercial galleries, nonprofits, and publications.

Several arts organizations that received loans have implemented layoffs and furloughs, among them the Guggenheim and the Whitney Museums.

PPP loans are distinct from the funds earmarked for the culture sector under the CARES Act, which provided a respective $75 million for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH); $50 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services; and $25 million for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC. The 19 museums that make up the Smithsonian Institution got a cumulative $7.5M (in New York City, the National Museum of the American Indian and the Cooper-Hewitt are part of the Smithsonian.)

It’s worth nothing that SBA has been sharply criticized for its uneven distribution of the aid to large corporations, such as Shake Shack, which notably returned its $10 million loan. Ultimately, the Treasury Department ruled that businesses with access to other sources of capital should not be eligible for the forgivable loans and asked public companies to return the funds. At least one of the arts organizations listed in this post appears to be a publicly traded company.

Finally, SBA provides only ranges, not specific loan amounts. This post will be continuously updated with exact numbers as we are able to confirm them.

—Valentina Di Liscia

(Full Disclosure: Hyperallergic secured a PPP loan but it is excluded from the data provided by SBA as it falls below the $150,000 threshold.)

Art Galleries

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Workers boarding up the storefront of the Hauser & Wirth gallery on West 22nd Street (photo by Hrag Vartanian for Hyperallergic)

According to our count, 60 luxury art or design gallery spaces of various types in New York were recipients of PPP loans, though some of them, like Hauser & Wirth, not only received funds in New York state ($1–2M) but also in California ($350K–1M) under a similarly named entity (“HAUSER & WIRTH” vs. “HAUSER & WIRTH HOLDING AG, ZURICH”).

The data suggest four art gallery entities each received over $2M in PPP loans, including the David Zwirner Gallery (which received, according to public documents, two loans that total $3–7M), Gagosian ($2–5M), and Pace, which received at minimum $2.5M and perhaps as much as $6.35M. The amount for Pace doesn’t include Pace Editions, which also received a $350–1M loan, and Pace/Macgill, which received $150–350K.

While Hauser & Wirth and Levy Gorvy received at least $1M each, and over a dozen art galleries received between $350–1M, including 303 Gallery, Friendman Benda, Gavin Brown Enterprises, Gladstone Gallery, Jack Shainman, Michael Werner, Greene Naftali, Lehmann Maupin, Lisson Gallery, Luhring Augustine, Matthew Marks, Pace Editions, Paul Kasmin, and Skarstedt Gallery).

The largest group of galleries listed received $150–350K from the PPP program, including James Cohan Gallery, Aicon, Andrew Kreps, Anton Kern, Di Donna Galleries, Petzel, Hollis Taggart, Miguel Abreu, Mitchell-Innes & Nash, Ronald Feldman, Salon 94, Van de Weghe, and many others.

A number of auction houses and art fairs also appear on the list. Bonhams Auction House received $2–5M, while Art Basel and TEFAF (Armory) both received $150–350K. —Hrag Vartanian


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The Guggenheim Museum in NYC (photo by Dave Nakayama via Flickr)

More than 22 museums in NYC have received federal aid in PPP loans ranging from $150K to $10M. Topping the list are the Whitney Museum , which received a loan between $5-10M, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, which received a loan of $5,938,000. (The Whitney Museum have not yet responded to Hyperallergic’s request for comment.)

The Jewish Museum, the Frick Collection, and the September 11 Memorial Museum received loans that range between $2-5M. Other institutions like the New Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Tenement Museum, the Rubin Museum, and the Museum of the City of New York have received loans of $1-2M. About eight other museums in the city received loans ranging from $350K-1M. Those include the Queens Museum, El Museo del Barrio, the American Museum of the Moving Image, the Museum of Arts and Design, and the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, among others.

Small museums like the Bronx Museum, the Museum of Chinese in America, and the Leslie Lohman Museum have received between $150-350K in aid. —Hakim Bishara

Other Arts Nonprofits and Publications

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A Dan Flavin installation at Dia:Beacon (photo by Chris Dignes via Flickr)

Several other nonprofit arts organizations in the city benefitted from PPP aid as well. These include major artists’ foundations, such as the Calder Foundation, which got a loan in the $150-350K range, and the Joan Mitchell and Judd foundations, which both got loans between $350K-1M. Meanwhile, the Dia Center for the Arts, which includes both Dia:Beacon upstate and Dia:Chelsea in New York City, got $1-2M in aid. Two organizations dedicated to commissioning public art projects, the Public Art Fund and Creative Time, secured loans of between $350K-1M and $150-350K, respectively.

Publications also got a piece of the pie: Artnet Worldwide Corporation, which appears to be the same as the publicly traded company, received between $1-2M, while Artforum and Bookforum, listed jointly, got a loan in the $350K-1M range.

A number of smaller arts nonprofits are on this list, too. The Drawing Center (which has 11-50 employees, according to its LinkedIn profile) got a $150-350K loan, while Aperture Foundation secured between $350K-1M.

The Calder Foundation, the Judd Foundation, and the Joan Mitchell Foundation have not responded to Hyperallergic’s immediate request for comment. —VD

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