The Pittsburgh Foundation

Bennett Prize Fund

Established: 12/28/2016

The Bennett Prize fund was created by art collectors Steven Bennett and Elaine Melotti Schmidt to advance the field of figurative realistic painters by funding work by women artists who paint in the figurative realist style. The Bennett Prize is part of The Pittsburgh Foundation’s Center for Philanthropy, which pairs donors with subject-matter experts to create unique initiatives that inspire real change. Bennett says, “We realized how much we had in common and the degree to which the Foundation is in sync with our values and what we are trying to do.”

The fund grew out of couple’s growing awareness of gender underrepresentation issues in the art world. Women artists are generally paid less than male artists, and museums and galleries generally present far fewer art exhibitions by women than men. Bennett says their art collection is composed entirely of paintings by women artists in the figurative realist style. This means the figures in the paintings aren’t abstract but actually look like people.

The Bennett Prize will be awarded to one of ten emerging women artists during a group exhibition in 2019. The artists will be figurative realist painters. The winning artist will receive a two-year stipend to create new works, leading to a solo museum exhibition and catalog. Bennett and Schmidt hope that the group and solo exhibitions will lead museums to collect more work and organize more exhibitions by women artists.

Type of Fund

  • Advised