Front Triennial Canceled Due to Lack of Funding

Front Triennial, Cleveland's Most Notable Contemporary Art Exhibitions, Won't Occur Due to Lack of Funding.

Feb 12, 2024By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
Front Triennial
Photo: Courtesy of Front International via Facebook.


Front Triennial, or Front International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art, folds due to lack of financial sources. Cleveland philanthropist Fred Bidwell founded the most prestigious art shows in the Midwest in 2016. Since 2018, the fair took place in Cleveland, but also in Akron and Oberlin. The organization will be dissolved and the scheduled 2025 edition cancelled.


Front Triennial Had a Budget of $5.5 M., But No More

Front Triennial
Fred Bidwell. Photo: the fair.


“When I developed this idea, it was a lot easier to raise the money”, Bidwell said. “Times have changed, and priorities have changed. Covid, the murder of George Floyd, and international and domestic political turmoil have changed the atmosphere for philanthropy”. The show’s budget was $5.5 million, he said. Front posted a press release on their website announcing the cancellation.


He clarifies that the organisation would not be able to uphold its “high standards” in light of the cessation of support from both public and private sources. The statement states that this choice occurred prior to signing contracts with artists and partners. Also, how Front will honour all business commitments and repay all funds. Previous editions’ supporters included individuals and organisations.


Front Triennial
Tony Tasset, Judy’s Hand Pavilion, featured in the 2018. Photo: Courtesy of Front International via Facebook.


These were the VIA Art Fund and the Louise H. and David S. Ingalls Foundation. It also included corporate sponsors, such as PNC Bank, CrossCountry Mortgage, and the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. Front lacked gallery rooms. Also, projects appeared at affiliated establishments. These were the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) Cleveland, the Cleveland Public Library, the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin, and the Akron Art Museum.

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Moskalewicz Shows Simpathy the Front Art Futures Fellows

Jacolby Satterwhite
Jacolby Satterwhite, Dawn, 2021. PHOTO CLEVELAND CLINIC


Asad Raza, who participated in the 2022 edition, intended to serve as the 2025 edition’s artistic director. For the 2022 edition, curator Prem Krishnamurthy was in charge. According to research, the first 2018 edition, which artist Michelle Grabner curated, brought in an estimated $31 million for the area. “It’s a disappointment, and a lost opportunity for all the artists Asad and I were in conversation with”, said Magdalena Moskalewicz, the organization’s chief curator.


Moskalewicz added that she is also disheartened for the Front Art Futures Fellows. She said they are “brilliant artists from Northeast Ohio whom we were supporting with funds and mentorship, including their presence in Front 2025 and a now-cancelled exhibition I was curating in Chicago this spring”. Bidwell and his wife Laura previously operated an art venue, the Transformer Station, in Cleveland’s Hingetown neighbourhood, for 10 years.


Michael Rakowitz, A Color Removed (2018 — ongoing) installation view. Commissioned by SPACES for FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art. Photography by Field Studio.


They donated the facility to the museum in 2023. The duo have been collecting photography and contemporary art since 1991, and own more than 1,300 works. Bidwell was previously president of Malone Advertising, in Akron, which he sold in 2005 for an undisclosed amount. “We did something quite cool”, said Bidwell, “but times change and we all need to change with them”.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.