FRONT International announces Arts ‘Ennials Alliance

Sep. 21, 2022

FRONT International announces Arts ‘Ennials Alliance

New coalition of North American biennial and triennial leaders gather in Cleveland for first summit Sept 22–23; unite to develop best practices, encouraging equity and sustainability within the exhibition model

(Cleveland, OH – September 21, 2022) — A coalition of North American biennial and triennial leaders announce the first in-person convening of the Art ‘Ennials Alliance, a network representing over thirty peer organizations from across the United States and Canada. Founded during the turbulent spring of 2020, the Arts ‘Ennials Alliance is emerging as a crucial platform for discourse and resource-sharing, catalyzing further advancement towards equity in the field.

Spearheaded by Sarah Spinner Liska, Deputy Director and Director of Exhibitions at FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art, the Art ‘Ennials Alliance first emerged as an informal network of peers connecting to discuss mutual challenges illuminated by the COVID-19 pandemic and contemporaneous racial justice movements. It has since grown to include many of the continent’s most prominent biennials and triennials, formalizing into a network designed around the distinct similarities and provocations shared by its member organizations.

While parallel structures exist for museums, galleries, and other major facets of the art world, the Art ‘Ennials Alliance is the first of its kind for the historically rooted— yet highly experimental—exhibition model. The Art ‘Ennials Alliance leverages a collective response to disjunctions apparent in the field, including difficulty balancing international impulses with regional impact; diminished public funding for public, civic-centered exhibitions; and structural inequities.

“The flexibility and porosity of our model is precisely what allows us to experiment, to adapt more quickly, to engage on both broader civic and more community-centered scales,” says Spinner Liska. “Through the Alliance, we intend to leverage shared knowledge, resources, opportunities, and audiences, with an openness to criticality and inquiry. It is my hope that through radical collaboration, we can shine a light on the intricacies of our own institutional and instituent practices, in the hope of working towards a better paradigm.”2

The Arts ‘Ennials Alliance currently operates as a primary leadership organization with quarterly leadership meetings and committees dedicated to finance, equity, governance and communication. Its first in-person gathering, organized by Sarah Spinner Liska and FloraJane DiRienzo, Executive Director of Biennial of the Americas, will take place at SPACES in Cleveland, OH, on September 22-23, 2022, with an agenda featuring critical discussions, panels, and guest speakers.

“We’re thrilled to gather in-person for the first time,” says DiRienzo. “These dedicated discussions will allow us to solidify our goals and craft a blueprint for our work together moving forward. Additionally as organizations we share many of the same challenges and opportunities, working together allows us to deepen our impact both in our local communities but as a broader alliance of art 'ennials. ”

The two-day event comes to a close with a funders’ panel, during which representatives from several major funding sources—including Wendy Clark, Director of Museums, Visual Arts, and Indemnity at the National Endowment for the Arts—will join in dialogue about new philanthropic models in the arts. Poised for continued growth, the Alliance stands to benefit member organizations as well as the larger ‘ennials community, with even greater reverberations towards equity and structural sustainability within the increasingly precarious arts ecosystem.

Art ‘Ennials Alliance Member Organizations:

  • ArtPrize (Grand Rapids, MI)

  • AURORA (Dallas, TX)

  • Biennial of the Americas (Denver, CO)

  • Chicago Architecture Biennial (Chicago, IL)

  • Counterpublic (St. Louis, MO)

  • Desert X (Coachella Valley, CA)

  • DesignPhiladelphia (Philadelphia, PA)

  • Engine for Art, Democracy and Justice (Nashville, TN)

  • Exhibit Columbus (Columbus, IN)

  • FotoFocus (Cincinnati, OH)

  • FRONT International (Cleveland, OH)

  • The Great Northern Festival (Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN)

  • Hawai’i Contemporary (Honolulu, HI)

  • Joshua Treenial (Joshua Tree, CA)

  • Mextropoli (Mexico City, Mexico)

  • MOMENTA Biennale de l'image (Montreal, Canada)

  • Monuments to Movements (Kansas City, MS)

  • Now + There (Boston, MA)

  • Open Spaces (Kansas City, KS)

  • The Petty Biennial (Chicago, IL)

  • Prospect New Orleans (New Orleans, LA)

  • Sculpture Milwaukee (Milwaukee, WI)

  • Tennessee Triennial (Nashville, TN)

  • Terrain Exhibitions & Biennial (Oak Park, IL)

  • Toronto Biennial of Art (Toronto, Canada)

  • Vancouver Biennale (Vancouver, Canada)

  • WESTAF (Denver, CO)

Press Contacts

Hunter Braithwaite
Director, Cultural Counsel

Emma Frohardt
Account Executive, Cultural Counsel

Devon Ma
Account Coordinator, Cultural Counsel