While the now-defunct Gen Art's main mission statement was to foster young designer talent, it seems some of the talents it sought to support are frustrated to be out hundreds of dollars they paid the company and now won't be getting back.
According to WWD, Gen Art was still in the process of planning sponsored shopping events in New York and Chicago right up until the organization closed on May 5. As such, it still charged credit cards and cashed checks from young designers in those cities, like Chicago's Kate Coxworth, who apparently spent $550 for booth space at one such event. Unfortunately, none of the designers who'd put in money to participate will be getting their money back, even though -- as Coxworth pointed out to WWD -- the application for the event promised a full refund if the event was canceled. Another Chicago designer also complained that Gen Art reps were repeatedly contacting her toward the end of April -- mere weeks before the organization collapsed -- and encouraging her to participate.
Founder Ian Gerard defended the company's decisions by pointing out that Gen Art had to at least keep up appearances in an attempt to attract investors until the very end, both by putting on events and accepting funds. That said, this isn't the first time that complaints about Gen Art's financial situation have surfaced. Right before the organization's 15th anniversary party last year, a tipster told Gawker that Gen Art was being seriously mismanaged, resulting in vendors going unpaid and sponsors dropping out.
Unfortunately, regardless of who is ultimately at fault for the financial collapse, the fact remains that Gen Art was one of the few organizations in the country making a real name of itself by supporting upstart designers and talents. No matter what the cause for its ultimate demise, the community is down a major supporter.