Saturday, April 01, 2006

Nonprofit CEO wants to expand talent showcase, Crain's New York Business

Nonprofit CEO wants to expand talent showcase
by Pamela Appea
April 2006

Ian Gerard, the chief executive of Gen Art, throws parties for a living.

Sure, the former corporate lawyer must balance 70-plus-hour work weeks, constant traveling and negotiating for corporate sponsors to help produce more than 100 events a year for the nonprofit that helps brings exposure to young and up-and-coming fashion designers, musicians and other artists get exposure.

But Mr. Gerard, 37, makes it all look easy.

In January, though sleep deprived, he sat in his office sipping diet cola and calmly musing about his quest for the perfect work-life balance. Just 15 hours earlier he had been in Utah overseeing a celebrity-studded Sundance party for 1,200 at Legacy Lodge Park Resort, co-sponsored with Starbucks and

"Ian was out for two hours in the 15-degree weather in his shirtsleeves working the door at Sundance. How many CEOs do you know who would do that?" said Charles Sommer, a friend from Mr. Gerard’s law school days and founder of, which offers online advice to men about dating, relationships and style.

As a self-described non-insider, his goal is to find new talent and bring it into the open. "Virtually all of our events are open to the public. We open our events to art enthusiasts, film enthusiasts, music enthusiasts," Mr. Gerard said. "That’s very rare, especially in invite-only cities like New York or Los Angeles."

He co-founded Gen Art in 1993 with brother Stefan and Melissa Neuman, a prominent third-generation Manhattan art collector. Armed with a $5,000 loan from their parents, the brothers and Ms. Neuman corralled a team of volunteers to get the labor of love started.

"Every day has highs and lows and you need to brush off the lows and move on," Mr. Gerard said, crediting the dozens of staffers on Gen Art’s team for helping the non-profit succeed.

The dedication seems to be paying off. The company was among the first to showcase the work of Hollywood designer and P. Diddy confidante Zac Posen. Manhattan-based fashion designer Shoshanna Lonstein Gruss is another longtime fan.

Gen Art has built a wide base of corporate sponsors, and exclusive partnerships for events and it sells tickets and memberships. This year the company should generate revenue of about $5 million, Mr. Gerard said.

Gen Art will open a sixth location in the U.S., or perhaps its first international office, in either Toronto or London this year, Mr. Gerard said. Plans call for a bigger online presence and more events spread over a wider area.

"People want to know what the next generation of talent will be," Mr. Gerard said. "That’s what I want to provide."

NAME: Ian Gerard AGE: 37

RESUME: CEO and co-founder of Gen Art.

Real estate lawyer at Latham & Watkins and at Kalkines, Arky, Zali & Bernstein

EDUCATION: New York University School of Law, Vassar College

TASK: Expanding Gen Art’s online presence with a new Web magazine called Gen Art Pulse ( that covers film, art, music, travel, fashion and design. Developing more events over a wider area.

PERSONAL: Born and raised on Upper East Side. Single, lives in Greenwich Village

HOBBIES: Walking whenever he gets a chance and traveling to Spain and Portugal, Scandinavia and Caribbean Islands.