The Avon Foundation, created by artist and philanthropist Jerome Hill, submitted Articles of Incorporation to the State of Minnesota, and was recognized as a Nonprofit Corporation by the Secretary of State. The Foundation was given a broad charitable purpose and its duration was to be perpetual.
In its first two meetings, six grants were made, of which three supported filmmakers and filmmaking, an area in which Jerome Hill had experience and to which he was highly committed. The Jerome Foundation has continued that commitment over the past 50 years.
The Foundation provided support for the design and construction of a Film Repertory Theatre in The Public Theatre, New York City. This project was conceived by Anthology Film Archives to show experimental and avant garde film in an optimal viewing environment.
The name of the Foundation was changed from Avon to Jerome Foundation.
In its first decade, the Foundation made 180 grants totaling $3,357,000.
The grantmaking program focused on the arts and humanities in Minnesota, surrounding states, and Greater New York City. The Foundation stated an interest in developing promising young artists who have the potential for making significant contributions to the arts and humanities.
The Foundation’s objectives were the encouragement of experimental, innovative and creative endeavors in the arts and humanities, and the promotion of the arts and humanities as integral parts of American life. The term “emerging” was first used to describe the Foundation’s focus on artists who have the potential for making significant contributions but have not yet achieved recognition in their chosen fields. This focus has continued for 37 years.
The Foundation’s support for emerging filmmakers in New York City was structured as an annual program, with an open application and independent panel review process. It provided production grant awards to individuals. The New York City Film and Video Program has continued to provide support for 37 years.
In its first 10 years of operation, over 70% of grant dollars were spent in the area of film and video. By 1980, film and video received 21% of grant dollars, creative writing 6%, dance 13%, music 17%, theater 19%, and visual arts 11%.
The Foundation’s support for emerging film and video artists in Minnesota was structured as an annual program, operated by Film in the Cities through 1993, with an open application and independent review process. The program awarded production grants to individuals. Jerome Foundation began operating the program in 1994. The Minnesota Film and Video Program has supported film and video artists for 33 years.
Recognizing that significantly increasing numbers of artists were working in and across multiple arts disciplines, the Foundation signaled its support by creating a multidisciplinary funding category.
In its second decade, the Jerome Foundation made 699 grants totaling $9,868,000, tripling its grantmaking in ten years.
The Foundation focused its humanities funding on arts criticism, including many years of support for the Center for Arts Criticism in Minnesota and the Affiliated Writers Program of Theatre Communications Group, New York City, and its American Theatre magazine.
The Foundation defined an emerging artist as one who is at an early stage of career development, one who has not received recognition from other artists and arts professionals, and one who has a limited, yet promising, production record.
In its third decade, the Jerome Foundation made 1,260 grants totaling $17,592,000.
In its fourth decade, the Jerome Foundation made 1,918 grants totaling $33,293,000.
Jerome Foundation emphasized its interest in supporting composers and sound artists working in a full range of musical sound including classical, experimental, jazz, sound art, and hybrid styles.
The Foundation expanded its literature funding in New York City through publication, residencies, mentorships, and fellowships.
The Foundation broadened its film and video production grant program to include digital works for virtual environments, open to artists working in the genres of experimental, narrative, documentary, and animation.
In its fifth decade, the Jerome Foundation made 1,267 grants totaling $25,800,000 as of January 2014.
The Foundation made its first grant to an individual, filmmaker Stan Brakhage, in the form of an annual fellowship, and initiated a long period of support for Anthology Film Archives, New York City.
Ten to twenty grants were authorized each year in New York, Minnesota, and other areas of the country to arts and humanities organizations and individuals whom Jerome Hill knew and wished to support.
Jerome Hill died, after completing his cinematic memoir, Film Portrait.
The Foundation’s longest record of annual support for one program began with a commitment of $1,800 for playwrights’ fellowships to The Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Jerome Fellowships for Emerging Playwrights continue to be offered each year by the Center.
The Foundation solidified its focus on the commissioning of new music by emerging composers with a grant to the Minnesota Composers Forum for the Composers Commissioning Program, which has awarded support for the creation of new works for 35 years. Commissioning and supporting new work became a dominant interest of the Foundation in all program areas, continuing to the present day.
The Foundation began to make grants directly to emerging choreographers and their companies, pairing that with commitments to select major dance presenters for the commissioning and production of new work by emerging choreographers.
The Travel and Study Grant Program began, a program that awards grants to individuals to travel for the purposes of study, exploration, and growth. The program has provided annual grants for 28 years.
The Foundation placed the emerging creative artist at the center of its grantmaking and prioritized programs that were artist-driven.
The Foundation’s support for the visual arts evolved from a focus on group exhibitions of works by emerging artists to a deeper engagement represented by fellowships, solo and two-person exhibitions, commissions, project grants, and residencies.
The Jerome Foundation and the Camargo Foundation, Cassis, France, both created by Jerome Hill, began operating under a single governance and integrated management structure. The Foundations share a deep trust in the power and potential of individuals to make significant contributions to the advancement of the arts and humanities.
* currently serving
In its first 50 years, the Jerome Foundation made grants totaling $89,910,000 to 645 organizations and 1,743 artists. In making 5,522 grants over 50 years, the Foundation reviewed 25,330 applications for support.
Total dollars committed to arts disciplines over that 50 years were:
The Jerome Foundation made grants totaling $48,800,000 to Minnesota organizations and individuals and $39,050,000 to New York City organizations and individuals. Funding outside of those two geographic areas, which took place early in the Foundation’s history, totaled $2,050,000.
In its General Program, the Jerome Foundation made 3,688 grants totaling $77,431,000.
Jerome Foundation makes many different types of grants, some for projects that take place for a limited period of time, some for focus areas that the Foundation no longer supports, and some, for the same emerging artist, which have a duration of three to seven years. All are relationships that the Foundation values. In addition, there are arts organizations that offer ongoing programs that serve new emerging artists each year. These grant relationships can be sustained over extended periods of time. Some date back to the Foundation's first decade of grantmaking.
Since 1986, the Travel and Study Grant Program has awarded grants to emerging creative artists and Minnesota-based executive and program administrators working for nonprofit arts organizations. Funds support periods of travel for the purpose of study, exploration, and growth.
From 1986 to 2005, the program supported individuals living in Minnesota. It expanded to Individuals living in New York City in 2006.
The program has been supported by the General Mills Foundation (1988-2014), the Art and Martha Kaemmer Fund of HRK Foundation (2002-2014), the Dayton Hudson and Target Foundations (1986-2001), and the Jerome Foundation (1986-2014).
From 1986 through 2013, the Travel and Study Grant program awarded 978 grants for a total commitment of $3,226,000, which supported travel throughout the world.
This map plots those trip locations, and the information reported provides the names of the individuals who received support.
In its early years, the Foundation made grants to individual filmmakers and to film organizations that Jerome Hill wanted to support. In 1978, the Foundation structured its program of production grants for film and video directors in the form of the New York City Film and Video Program. In 1993, it did the same with the Minnesota Film and Video Program. From 1978 to 1993, grants to Minnesota film and video directors were made through a program operated by Film in the Cities.
Over 50 years, 347 grants totaling $2,987,000 were made to film and video directors in Minnesota and the four surrounding states. In the same 50 years, 509 grants totaling $6,266,000 were made to film and video directors in New York City.
These productions speak to the value the Foundation places on the individual creative voice.