An Arts NonProfit for Women: Interview with Sara Kay
An Arts Non-Profit for Women: Interview with Curator Sara Kay, Founder of POWarts.
An Arts NonProfit for Women. Interview by NYC Fine Art Photographer Angela Cappetta
Sara Kay is a force. To enumerate, here are just a few of her accomplishments:
- Gallery Manager at the American Folk Art Museum.
- Christie’s Old Master Drawings department.
- Director of White Cube.
- Principal, Sara Kay Gallery, NYC.
This list makes this interviewer positively blush.
After all, I am an artist. One of a zillion. Why would Sara want to talk to the likes of yours truly? Then I got to know her. And I realized that she was not simply a sum of her accomplishments. Moreover, Sara is a bright and brilliant woman who is the Founder of POWarts.
POWarts is an organization that provides professional support to women in the arts. It was founded in 2008 to champion the professional lives of women in the art world.
An Arts NonProfit for Women
Kay says.“The heart of POWarts mission is a community, with a deep belief that through mutual support, we rise together. There is no better moment than right now to hold that belief close, and offer a safe space to connect, to share, and to uplift one another.”
Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Sara. I had to ask her about POWarts.
Q: Starting a non-profit isn’t easy. So, what was your motivation for establishing POWarts?
A: I entertained the idea of going back to school for an MBA, but as I wanted to help other women succeed with me, I instead founded POWarts with a group of female colleagues/friends. I wrote the mission, we hosted a launch event, and 500+ professionals showed. On March 8th, we will celebrate our 13thanniversary. From 2000-2005, I was a one-woman department – the Old Master Drawings Department – at Christie’s, New York. And I was surrounded by an all-male department. They were a team, and I was alone. And while I was working in the art world, it was entirely on the commercial side, and I didn’t have formal business training. Like so many in my field, I had a degree in art history. I needed to hone my business skills, and also develop a community to do business with.
Q: What type of programming is available to members?
A: POWarts programming is rooted in business and career advancement. We do not talk about art. Our programming is shaped by the needs of our members and the vision of our volunteer staff. Pre-Covid, each program covered a new business topic and was hosted at a new venue, mostly in the tri-state. In April 2020, we went virtual and have since been able to reach and serve even more members. In addition to our programs, we launched the first-ever industry-wide salary survey, and more recently, a Covid-impact survey. The results can be found on our website: https://www.powarts.org/surveys.
Q: What is your favorite aspect of POWarts?
A: My favorite part of POWarts is seeing our members thrive, Furthermore, I enjoy when a member lets me know that they have found community within our group. Better yet, when one of us has advanced in their career because of their involvement. Once we released the results of our salary survey. Thereafter, a member I had never met walked into my gallery and said the following: “Do you know what I learned today?”. I responded with a blank stare. She continued: “Because of the POWarts survey, I learned that I am underpaid. So now, I have data to back up asking for a raise.” That is the best part of POWarts.
Q: Do you have a vision for the organization in the long term?
A: I have had a long-term vision since before I wrote the mission. I imagined a global network, an online platform to support community engagement, greater diversity both within our community and the industry at large, great transparency, healthier workplaces, and a lot more. But my longest vision and greatest desire is that we’re no longer needed.
Q: Tell us how it fits into the next chapter of your life?
A: I’ve had a great 20+ year run as an art dealer. Now I want to put more attention on POWarts and see it through to its full potential. Perhaps my own, too.
An Arts Non-Profits for Women
POWarts is a 501c(3) nonprofit organization run by a volunteer steering committee. Furthermore, membership is open to women and their allies who hold a commitment to the advancement of professional women across the arts.