Between Bridges’ 2020Solidarity project is helping clubs and venues fundraise through prints

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Organised by Wolfgang Tillmans’ Between Bridges foundation, the 2020Solidarity project has provided a fundraising framework for creative spaces across the world which have been impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

For a lot of venues, the crisis’ impact was felt quickly. And coming up with meaningful fundraiser plans in the midst of an unprecedented humanitarian crisis isn’t easy for grassroots organisations facing an existential threat. The 2020Solidarity project was launched to unite 50 international artists, each of whom designed a poster for the campaign. These posters were then made available to different crowdfunding sites as a reward for donations. Between Bridges doesn’t sell the posters, they print and distribute them to organisations for free – streamlining the process and connecting some of the world’s most at-risk creative organisations with some of the world’s most well-known artists.

Works by Tillmans, contemporary South African artist Marlene Dumas, Belgian visual artist Luc Tuymans, Jeff Koons, Isa Genzken and many others are available through the project. And it’s ongoing with more artists and beneficiaries joining the network regularly. Recent additions include the legendary photographer Nan Goldin, LA-based visual artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby and celebrated Japanese photographer Daidō Moriyama.

Venues like historic experimental hub Cafe OTO in Dalston are among those who have benefitted from 2020Solidarity. “We managed a week of live-streamed shows in an empty venue which went pretty well,” OTO’s Oli Barrett tells us over email, “but when the full lockdown measures came into force this became impossible to continue. Since then we’ve had to be fairly creative in finding ways to make up for the huge drop-off in revenue.” Selling work by Tillmans, Dumas, Anne Imhof, Jochen Lempert and many others on their online store has been instrumental in protecting OTO’s future. “The response has been pretty amazing since we listed the posters earlier this month. Aside from the obvious financial help – which we’re incredibly grateful for – it’s also nice to be part of a support network with a fully international outlook. This is a global crisis and it’s going to require a global solution.”

It’s the intentionally global approach of the project that delivers the solidarity that is so vital at this moment. Angelina Guerrero is the director at Espacio KB, an independent art space located in Bogotá, Colombia – a venue that exists at the epicentre of a wider community of independent businesses. “Espacio KB is located in the Bogotá Art District, a place where many art events, restaurants and cafes operate,” she says. “There is a big risk that the district will lose many of these – a dedicated neighbourhood to arts and culture.” Friends of Espacio KB got connected with Tillmans, directors of the organisation then explored Between Bridges and became beneficiaries of the project. “It was very organic. We are currently doing a crowdfunding campaign with 10 posters we have selected from 2020Solidarity.”

“Despite our government failing on many levels, the general attitude of those around us is that we’re in the same boat,” says Stuart Glen from The Cause in London, who joined 2020Solidarity after Tillmans got in touch as a fan of their much-loved queer underground party, Adonis. “People are often asking how they can help, touching base, offering support. It’s been great to see an increase in community. Adding such a credible artist has really helped drive our crowdfunder. It gives great value and helps people realise how important the club is to culture and art.”

And not all organisations are using the 2020Solidarity resources solely for venues. The Lab, a 36-year-old experimental art space in San Francisco, have split their proceeds with the SF Bay Area Queer Nightlife Fund, who provide relief to LGBTQ+ nightlife workers and entertainers affected by the crisis. “The response has been extraordinary – we have stopped promoting or marketing the posters as we want to keep focus on the Black Lives Matter movement right now, but many comrades are still finding them and contributing,” says The Lab’s director Dena Beard. “The art speaks for itself, and we are deeply grateful to everyone at Between Bridges for making this lifeline both financially empowering and ethically empowering of the kind of art we want to support. I’m impressed with the ingenuity of the model.” The Wattis Institute, an art gallery also in San Francisco with a reputation for supporting emerging and experimental practitioners, is donating 50% of profits to the SF Queer Nightlife Fund as well.

On the East Coast, eight NYC queer nightlife collectives and figures have united to form the Support Nightlife NYC Project, “an initiative to help members of the NYC nightlife community that are existentially threatened by the current public health and economic crisis.” Supporting a number of beneficiaries across the city, the goal of the project is to “get money into the hands of real people with NYC nightlife who keep NYC alive.” For Susanne Oberbeck, who is helping to lead the project, the response to the crisis is representative of a broader shift. “As artists and especially queer artists, we are used to imagining utopian worlds. With the current events in NYC, a lot of us are hoping that broader change will be initiated as a result of the crisis and protests following the George Floyd murder.”

It’s no surprise that further unions and mutual aid setups have formed under the umbrella of the 2020Solidarity project – a framework which will continue to connect the dots for venues and organisations across the world. As Gretar from 254Forest, a creative space in Belgium who are selling 2020Solidarity prints put it, “Artists will always overcome moments like this… the idea of community is even more important than before.”

Find out more about Between Bridges’ 2020Solidarity project here.

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