A couple of years ago, I posted a satirical piece on Facebook claiming to be “outraged” at the appearance of public art in Newark. I went on to promote (a mythical) Assembly Law 204 which would prevent the funding, creation or exhibition of fine art in the state of New Jersey. Newark is not a great spot for satire; I got some serious complaints about my “opposition” to public art. I know how Swift must have felt. Over the last three years, Artfront Galleries has shown the works of more than 50 artists (most of them Newark residents) in more than nine locations to hundreds of viewers. We were awarded an ArtStart grant by the Newark Council for the Arts and undertook to bring quarterly exhibitions to the NHA’s Waterfront Recreation Center on Grafton Ave. All of this done using a severely “not for profit” model: no hanging fees; no commissions.
Artfront tries to work in the North part of the Central ward and the North Ward, generally leaving the well resourced and well served Center City and Ironbound to the “established” art groups. This year, the lose association of artists, writers and curators who have been Artfront Galleries chose to formally incorporate. A few hundred dollars and a few hours of research and we have not only standing as a Nonprofit New Jersey Corporation, but also standing as a Federal 501c3.
Back to my satire of two plus years ago. In researching the application for corporate status in New Jersey, there is no NJ official business code that bears the label “art” (or culture or education for that matter). You can describe yourself as a seller or manufacturer of art supplies but there is no category that covers the creation, exhibition or sale of art. Art does not exist as far as the legal structure of the State is concerned. In New Jersey, Artfront Galleries is recognized as a nonprofit corporate “consultancy”. You can create an art oriented corporation in New Jersey if you are sufficiently quiet about it.
The Federal Government is quite different. Our 501c3 application is for a not for profit art gallery. Pretty clear there. More remarkably, the new 501c3 application called the 1023 has a baby brother. 1023 EZ is three pages as compared with the 26 pages of the original 1023. There is a checklist to fill out to see if you qualify for the 1023EZ. Once you have done the initial work to establish your nonprofit corporation (there are many websites with templates and instructions), the 1023EZ takes $400 and an hour. Pick “A20.”
Please feel free to contact Artfront Galleries with any questions you may have regarding the State and Federal applications.