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Badly Bungled Philanthropy

The New York Philharmonic* just gave everyone a lesson in how not to fundraise. I am talking, of course, about the announcement that David Geffen has promised $100 million to the Phil for the renovation of Avery Fisher Hall.  There are two problems with this gift. First, the Phil’s leadership seems to have been enchanted […]

Can There Be Too Many Museums?

In a controversial move, Washington, D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser last week killed plans to open an Institute of Contemporary Expression at a disused, rodent-infested, leaky-roofed historic school in the city’s northwest quadrant. Predictably, she was pummeled by critics, some of whom say she would rather have a commercial venture in that space (which is protected […]

The Story Behind LACMA’s Saudi Partnership

Press releases often provoke more questions than they answer. That was certainly the case when one from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art issued one on Jan. 6 about its new collaboration with Saudi Aramco’s King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture. It said that LACMA and the Center: are pleased to announce that the Center […]

No So Fast: Private Art Museum Under Scrutiny

“I’m not against it being done, but it’s got to be done well,” [Rob] Storr [dean of the Yale School of Art], said. “If there’s to be a public forgiveness for taxes there should be a clear public benefit, and it should not be entirely at the discretion of the person running the museum or foundation.” […]

Court Orders Tate To Provide Funding Details, Pronto

The Tate museum has been ordered to reveal the details of its sponsorship deals with BP, the oil company–and that, I think, is a good thing. This all happened just before Christmas, and according to The Guardian’s article on the ruling by a court: Tate has been ordered to give details of its BP sponsorship […]

More on That Indy Admission Fee

The reaction in Indianapolis to the museum’s decision to go from free general admission to an $18 general admission has been very instructive. I’ve been watching local comments, and–not statistics, just my impression–the tally is overwhelming against. Again, the opposition is not necessarily against all museum admissions, it’s opposed to the gigantic jump and the […]

Indianapolis Museum Stirs Up A Hornet’s Nest

What the Indianapolis Art Museum did Friday has to fall into the category of major PR blunder. In a press release headlined “IMA announces new campus enhancement plan to improve visitor experience and financial sustainability,” it sneaked in the fact–in the ninth paragraph, no less–that: To build stronger relationships with guests, ensure quality programming through […]

No Other Word For It: Fundraising Failure

The Phillips Collection crowdsourcing effort, an attempt to raise $45,000 in a month to support a website abut Jacob Lawrence, has failed miserably. When the drive ended on Dec. 10, only $2,988–a mere 7 percent of the goal–had been pledged. And that took 41 supporters, for an average contribution of about $73. All of the […]

Rush Post: Financial Health Of the Arts Industry

Southern Methodist University’s National Center for Arts Research (NCAR), begun a few years ago, ,released a new bit of research today–“examining the financial, operating, engagement and staffing health of the U.S. nonprofit arts industry.” I confess I find much of its work a bit unsurprising. Do we really need research that shows, as this report […]

Barron’s Strange Report On Art Museums

Last weekend, Barron’s–the financial weekly–published a cover story on art museums. It’s a crazy salad of a piece, full of supposedly new thoughts that are actually old, composed with a strange tone that shifts throughout the piece, exaggerating in parts, and so on. It frequently cited net assets as a sign of wealth, which includes […]

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