Celebrating 17 Years of Film.Biz.Fans.
by Brian Brooks
May 5, 2010 9:30 AM
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UPDATED: Gen Art Closes After 16 Years

"Tanner Hall" co-directors Tatiana Von Furstenberg, Francesca Gregorini, producer Julie Snyder and actress Rooney Mara posing with a check for $10K from Acura on April 13th after winning the Jury Award for Best Picture, capping the 15th Gen Art Film Festival. Photo by Brian Brooks/indieWIRE

UPDATED 7:09pm EDT: Coming off the heels of its New York City film festival, which ended April 13, the founders of Gen Art announced it is ending operations after 16 years.

"It is with an extremely heavy heart that we are are posting this. After struggling for the past 18 months since the economic crisis, Gen Art has finally succumbed to the recession," Gen Art Founders Ian and Stefan Gerard wrote on the organization's website.

The announcement comes on the heels of other recent festival casualties including CineVegas, which said it would forgo its June event (though it remains to be seen if it will have a re-birth after 2010) and the recently concluded Palm Beach International Film Festival, which said that it fears their April event may have been their last due to mounting financial pressure. LA's AFI Fest also endured another change of regime due to financial pressure, though that event is still slated to take place in November. Other fests around the country have also experienced stress since the film industry began its latest restructuring, followed by the financial meltdown in 2008.

"During this challenging time we did everything in our power to adjust our business to these new business realities by cutting costs and seeking out alternative funding solutions," says the letter on Gen Art's site.

"However when a major, new, corporate partnership unexpectedly collapsed a few weeks ago, we found ourselves without sufficient resources or time to overcome this sudden and substantial loss of revenue. Their decision had the unintended effect of pushing Gen Art over the edge. We have now halted all operations, have let go all of our amazing staff, and shuttered the business that we hope was in some small way was as close to your heart - as it was ours."

Acura had long been one of Gen Art's main sponsors. The Gen Art Film Festival in New York had long been an anchor for the organization, and the group in recent years started a similar film event in Chicago. The signature format of seven premieres followed by seven parties at a NYC "hotspot" over one week became a popular call for the young & well-heeled and hipsters alike starting back in the '90s. Their parties often brought celebs and revelers in the same room for late-night partying.

In addition to film events, Gen Art also showcased emerging fashion designers, musician and visual arts in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami and Chicago. The organization's Senior Vice President of Film Jeff Abramson and Associate Director of Film Aaron Levine were mainstays on the NYC film scene, though Abramson had relocated to the organization's office in Los Angeles in recent years.

"It's been an incredible journey for me. The job was never the same from year to year as we learned how to develop ever more meaningful programs for our filmmakers, brand partners and audiences," Abramson, who started at Gen Art as an intern, told indieWIRE by email Wednesday evening. "The film festival and our screening series (supported by Acura for the past 8 years) were always the foundation of Gen Art Film but from it sprung programs like our Delta Fly-In Movies, Your Amazon Ad Contest, Nokia Art in Motion and dozens more which brought the relationship between artists and brands to new levels of collaboration. And yes, Gen Art has also always been known for the parties - but it was always a tool to help market and bring a social element and level of engagement to the process of discovery whether in film, fashion, art, music or a new product one of our brand partners was launching."

Concluding, Abramson added, "I'm very proud of the impact we have had on the industry/filmmakers, audiences and sponsors alike and look forward to continuing to build these bridges in the future. None of this would have ever been possible with out the extremely passionate staff, interns and volunteers that have been the backbone of Gen Art for 16 years."

"We will always remember the good times and proudly think back on the opportunities created for so many emerging artists through the thousands of fashion shows, film screenings and festivals, live music performance, art fairs and competitions we have produced across the country since 1994," writes Ian and Stefan Gerard in the Gen Art website announcing their closure. "We hope that where we have left off, others will step up to help fill the void."


The following letter was sent by Gen Art's Founders to the "Gen Art Film Community":

Dear Filmmaker,

It is with an extremely heavy heart that we are contacting you.

After struggling for the past 18 months since the economic crisis, Gen Art has finally succumbed to the recession.

During this challenging time we did everything in our power to adjust our business to these new business realities by cutting costs and seeking out alternative funding solutions. However when a major, new, corporate partnership unexpectedly collapsed a few weeks ago, we found ourselves without sufficient resources or time to overcome this sudden and substantial loss of revenue. The reality is that we had fiscally planned and relied upon the representations of this partner. Their decision had the unintended effect of pushing Gen Art over the edge. As of today we have halted all operations.

We will be forever grateful for the support of so many individuals and corporate partners over the last 16 years who have believed in the vision and mission of this business. Whatever we have accomplished has been made possible through the hard work and dedication of the incredible Gen Art staff, interns and legions of volunteers who have given so much of themselves, their passion and their talents to the common causes of discovering and showcasing the new generation of talent.

It has been an incredible journey and experience. We will always remember the good times and proudly think back on the opportunities created for so many emerging artists through the thousands of fashion shows, film screenings and festivals, live music performance, art fairs and competitions we have produced across the country since 1994.

Keep up the good work – there is a need for the next generation of artistic talent!

Sincerely,
Ian & Stefan Gerard
Gen Art Founders

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