The founders of Miss Porter’s School, an all-girls high school located in Farmington, Connecticut, believed a stellar education can open a new world of opportunity for girls. To support this mission, a group of collectors and female artists came together to back what is being billed as the first-ever benefit auction of works exclusively by women, which is taking place March 1st at Sotheby’s in New York. Sale proceeds will go towards providing financial aid so that an even more diverse student body can attend Miss Porter’s School.
The generosity of these artists and others who have contributed works to the sale is inspiring under any circumstances. It is particularly notable because of the negligible tax benefits they will receive for their gifts. Contrary to public perception, donors who contribute works to charity auctions are driven by passion, not tax relief. This is especially true for artists who donate their own work.
A benefit for tomorrow’s women
Established in 1843, Miss Porter’s School was founded with the radical aim of providing young women with the same high-school education as their male peers. The school’s curriculum included a full panoply of science, language, and mathematics courses, in addition to various athletic opportunities. Today, the school has 312 students, most of whom live on campus as boarders. Around one-third of the students receive some form of financial aid to help them attend the school.
The idea for a benefit auction started in the summer of 2016, as planning began to honor the 175th anniversary of the school’s founding. A small leadership team came together to brainstorm auction concepts. The team was initially comprised of Dr. Anna Swinbourne, a former Museum of Modern Art
curator who now teaches at Miss Porter’s, and Dr. Sunnie Evers, a school alumnus and trustee; they were then joined by Agnes Gund, the noted philanthropist, MoMA trustee, and Miss Porter’s alumnus.