Examining Gallery-Supported Art Exhibitions
46 Pages Posted: 11 Aug 2016 Last revised: 12 Aug 2016
Date Written: August 10, 2016
For-profit art galleries are making news for the donations they provide to nonprofit art organizations to support exhibitions of artists represented by such galleries. Yet nonprofit art organizations are committed to advancing art for the public interest, not for private profit. This Article examines whether there are any meaningful limits on gallery donations that support art exhibitions at nonprofit arts organizations, focusing on the legal framework governing federal tax-exempt status, as well as the self-regulatory rules and informal norms of the art industry. Does the existing regime allow gallery-supported art exhibitions or are they activities that do not further nonprofit art organizations’ missions? What short-term and long-term solutions are available and appropriate in light of the causes and context of gallery-supported art exhibitions? These questions are animated by the broader dialogue about equitable access to publicly funded resources, with the answers having important implications for what it means to promote art that is representative of American society.
Keywords: Nonprofit, Exempt Purpose, Art, Public Interest, Commerciality, Private Benefit, Private Inurement, Tax
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