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tyler green interviews terrence riley

Post #705 • January 10, 2006, 10:26 AM • 43 Comments

While Artblog.net gets back into the groove of things, check out part 1, part 2. Think piece to follow, especially regarding this development, upon which major hopes have been pinned ("What I'm encouraged by is not only the art fair but now there's a lot of talk locally with serious steps taken, to open a top-quality MFA program") even though, strictly speaking, at this time it consists mostly of talk.

Comment

1.

Jack

January 10, 2006, 11:16 AM

In the two MAN pieces interviewing Riley, the guy talks about various things, but he says little or nothing of any substance about what should be the overriding concern: ART. There's no sense of his views or feelings about that, as if it's not something he's particularly concerned about--as if that's just not his thing. He sounds like an architecture and administration person, but he doesn't even remotely sound like an Alfred Barr or a Duncan Phillips. Great job, MAM, as usual. I know my confidence is now restored. NOT. But wait, I never had much confidence in MAM, so never mind.

2.

George

January 10, 2006, 2:53 PM

Well, I think Franklin was close to the mark when he said 1. Whom he ends up hiring as curators affects my life more than anything else. Until he makes those hires, I'm waiting to get enthused about him.

I know I'm just an outsider but if I have my facts straight, Terrence Riley was hired as 'director' of the museum. It's a corporate job, no? kind of like a CEO of a large corporation. So yes, he will have a strong influence over who is hired to fill the curatorial positions. On the other hand, I would guess that at this stage, just taking control of the museum organization goes a long way towards a white wall with two nails in it to hang a painting (or new media or sculpture or video, who I leave out?)

Old issues with MAM, maybe they should be given a honeymood period, leave them sticky so Mr. Riley knows they are there but also give the guy a chance to do get the ball rolling. Redefining a museum in a major US city is a unique opportunity.

3.

alesh

January 10, 2006, 3:56 PM

I agree 100% that he should be given a honeymoon period; a chance to prove himself. Not any particular time frame attached, though:

A director's influence over the institution takes hold gradually - the exhibitions, for example, are probably planned out at least two years ahead. Then there's the construction of the building to consider - obviously he's going to be the guy who takes the fall/gets the glory for how that goes. Only once it's opened and the first year of programming is announced will we really, imo, be able to make judgements (the curator hiring will be a good early sign).

An interesting periferal question is How much influence do museum directors have on exhibitions? Clearly, the answer is NOT "None: they just hire the curators, who then have free reign," however much that might be the ideal?

4.

oldpro

January 10, 2006, 5:37 PM

He sounds intelligent, well informed and sensible. I don't detect anyy interest in art. Like Jack, that's all I really care about. Maybe he can make the place interesting, maybe not. We'll see.

I am getting sick and tired of hearing that there are no "substantive" art programs in Miami. They do not mean "substantive", they mean "swinging, fashion-driven and collector-friendly". These are two very different things. Here's a letter to the editor from a recent issue of the herald:

"Re the Jan. 4 story Artistic vision includes profits, school: The studio program at the University of Miami does not lack stability, as was stated in the article. The succession of department chairs reflects bad decision-making and insufficient support on the part of the university. But the people who teach here run a solid, consistent program.

"Students might go from Miami to Yale. But students also come from all over the country to our program because it is one of the few places left where they can learn how to draw and paint. This is what we teach them to do. If we wanted to create rabbits that glow in the dark, as recommended by Bruce W. Ferguson, dean of Columbia University's art school, we would do that. We don't."

5.

Jack

January 10, 2006, 5:40 PM

Part of my point, George, is that being a museum director should definitely NOT be primarily a corporate job. This is not Microsoft or General Motors. The job can be approached that way, and that's part of my concern with this guy. If he or anybody else thinks all he needs to do is secure a nice enough building, which is just a damn shell, that's just plain nonsense.

The nicest building in the world will not spell success unless what's in it, and what goes on inside it, is first-rate. That requires a director with a superior and primarily artistic, not just corporate or architectural, vision. We don't need an architectural tour de force; we need (or at least I want) a seriously good art museum, and I don't believe Riley is enough of an art person (in the real sense) to bring that off.

6.

FRC

January 10, 2006, 6:24 PM

Mr. Riley stated "I didn’t think the institution should strive to be a 'little brother' kind of encyclopedic museum which will always mean having a second-rate status. Rather, Miami should look to other museums that have established themselves as having a unique and signature identity which the art world and curators don't see as second-rate, but as specialized. I'm thinking of the Menil, the Walker, the Louisiana. These are all institutions that museum people love and they're absolutely not trying to be smaller versions of the big encyclopedic institutions."

That statement should provide some strong clues to Mr. Riley's vision and art interests.

We should also refrain from attributing ideas to him that he clearly hasn't expressed (yet?!)..and let's be fair to the guy - he hasn't even started yet! You wouldn't want him to get fired before day 1 for saying something offensive on a blog!?! ;)

7.

George

January 10, 2006, 6:45 PM

re#5, …being a museum director should definitely NOT be primarily a corporate job. This is not Microsoft or General Motors.

Well, in a perfect world maybe, but the way I see it, a museum the size of an expanded MAM requires a corporate style of organization and someone, a general, needs to be in charge at the top.

If he or anybody else thinks all he needs to do is secure a nice enough building, which is just a damn shell, that's just plain nonsense.

Who said that was his only concern? It seems to me like you are jumping to conclusions here. MAM isn't just renting an old warehouse, popping in a few sheetrock walls and rolling out of the chute with a show you are sure to hate. (which was kind of what MOCA in LA did 20 years ago)


I agree that the nicest building in the world will not spell success, none the less, it's a place to start for many reasons, some of which I'll admit don't have much to do with art directly but affect the community in other ways.

We don't need an architectural tour de force; we need (or at least I want) a seriously good art museum, and I don't believe Riley is enough of an art person (in the real sense) to bring that off.

I'm just guessing, but I'll bet a lot of people in Miami desire a seriously good art museum, but if we started talking aesthetic viewpoints it would be harder to get everyone to agree. So, when you say I don't believe Riley is enough of an art person (in the real sense) to bring that off. it appears to me that you somehow believe he will take MAM in a curatorial direction oblique to your own taste. That's one vote, next.

8.

Jack

January 10, 2006, 7:46 PM

Re #6:

OK, so Riley doesn't want MAM to be a second-rate MOMA. Fine. So what, exactly, IS his vision for MAM, artistically speaking? Again, I don't want to hear about the damn building. Surely he was pointedly and emphatically asked that question as part of the hiring process (unless the MAM crew is really hopeless), and the Miami public has every right to know his answer in luxuriant detail. Now. We're waiting.

Re #7:

Someone, a general, needs to be in charge at the top. Well, duh. The issue is not being in control, which of course he has to have, but how that control is exercised and to what ends.

The allmighty building may not be the only concern, but it sure as hell looks like it's the overriding one. That explains perfectly why they went for someone like Riley, whose background seems far better suited for such a task than for what a museum director should ideally be about. Again, we're not talking about an architecture museum here, and yet again, we should be talking about an Alfred Barr analog--which he most certainly doesn't appear to be.

When I said I don't believe Riley is enough of a real art person, I wasn't referring to his taste vs. mine, but to the glaring lack of any significant indication in all I've read so far that he's really about ART (apart from buildings), as Oldpro noted above. Read #1 again. In other words, where's the beef, or what should be the meat of this matter?

9.

Jack

January 10, 2006, 10:24 PM

Re #6, I'd like to add that the passage quoted sounds like brand-name identification, image development or a positioning strategy, valid though that may be, but it does not necessarily imply the kind of passionate, innate interest in and commitment to art that I think is indispensable to a great museum director. In other words, the quoted statement may represent a merely pragmatic or businesslike marketing-type approach (and yes, I know that's precisely what many may want).

I recognize that what is not necessarily implied is also not necessarily ruled out, but the admittedly limited evidence available on Riley so far favors skepticism.

10.

Mystified

January 10, 2006, 10:24 PM

Why so much hate and pessimism about MAM? This museum is relatively young and it is a work in progress. Give them a chance.

True, the city needs a museum with a distinct, good collection (which will grow over time) but also, it needs an impressive building that all Miamians would feel very proud of.

The current one is awful. The entrance looks like Walgreen’s and one can actually fry eggs in the boring, hot floor plaza. In addition, this “Moro” type structure is not accessible and is not friendly to pedestrians.

I am all for Museum park and very optimistic. My only main concern is that is going to be built near water. (They better start thinking about hurricanes, humidity, tide waves, etc….)

11.

George

January 10, 2006, 10:52 PM

…sounds like brand-name identification, image development or a positioning strategy, valid though that may be, but it does not necessarily imply the kind of passionate, innate interest in and commitment to art that I think is indispensable to a great museum director. In other words, the quoted statement may represent a merely pragmatic or businesslike marketing-type approach

Well, gee wiz. Pragmatic? or maybe "not trying to be smaller versions of the big encyclopedic institutions." is just realistic? Frankly, if Mr. Riley can get the community interested, it will help his fund raising efforts (ans. to #8, meat of the matter)

Frankly the attitude here is really defeatist ('cept alesh, FRC and mysto) in the face of what seems to be an obvious change for the better because it is a clear break with the past. Quit complaining and offer up some real advice. Hell Jack, apply for a curatorial job.

12.

George

January 10, 2006, 10:56 PM

I guess I should have also included Oldpro in my 'cept list, sorry for the slight.

13.

FRC

January 10, 2006, 11:23 PM

Mystified: very good point! maybe a well
disguised multi-level parking garage beneath
the new MAM structure will remedy any storm
surge concerns. (Miami Beach, Fisher Island
& Watson Island are now good barriers, though.)
[You can see what happened to the area in the '26 storm
on page 45 of Issue 4 of Accent Miami Magazine...]

AND I concur in all seriousness with George - (I've said it
before) Jack should become part of the solution - get involved-
It is a public entity. As much as your hard line offends some - your
opinion is well respected by me & ALL the artists I know!

But I wonder what the AbEx chorus thinks of your
praise of Alfred Barr...? And will we cry cronyism
if someone like Philip Johnson (Barr's Harvard classmate)
ends up designing the new building???

14.

Jack

January 11, 2006, 12:32 AM

George (#11), maybe I don't follow you, or maybe you didn't follow #8, but I was using "beef" as synonymous with "meat of the matter," and I wasn't talking about money. I was referring to Riley's background, track record, and apparent orientation vis-à-vis what I consider crucial and indispensable in a topnotch museum director (regardless of whatever other desirable or useful qualities there may be).

What you call "defeatist" I call realistic or cold-eyed (as opposed to misty-eyed wishful thinking). As you've done before, you castigate Cassandra, who may be completely correct, for being so "negative." The Trojans fell for that, but I'm not buying it, though you're welcome to your opinion. I'll keep mine.

As for complaining, I'll do so whenever I feel it's warranted and as much as I feel is justified. I've already given my advice as to the kind of person I think should and should not run MAM, which is what this whole discussion is about; I don't require your assent. And regarding my applying for a curatorial job, you know that's pure rhetoric, but it's consistent with your Cassandra-bashing. It's like telling someone who complains about an inadequate FEMA director to just shut up and apply for that job.

15.

spam all star

January 11, 2006, 6:58 AM

MAM? MOCA? Why in the heck has'nt Dorsch as a gallery owner, placed any of the many artists that he's shown in the past 10 years in any of these two public taxpayer institutions? Kyle Throwbridge made some 'punk' video that the people can agree with and like. I guess that he's the exception...and how can we make even more money off of him?

16.

Franklin

January 11, 2006, 8:10 AM

There's another - MAM had a video by Rene Barge that was tangentially involved in the Light and Atmosphere show. I don't know whether it joined the permanent collection or not. But that's it. There's a list as long as your arm of local artists whom are heavily granted, represented, and/or shown, and whom neither museum ever works with, both in Dorsch and outside it.

Spam, if you're not actually Andrew, go get a new pseudonym.

17.

Kathleen

January 11, 2006, 10:06 AM

Oldpro, I can't find that letter online--do you happen to have a link?

Jack, you should act as an independent curator; you have such a strong voice and vision. Find a space and curate a show. This is not mere rhetoric; this is a sincere suggestion. I'm sure there are many who would be willing to help you.

Franklin, Rene's work was not tangentally part of Light and Atmosphere; it was part of Light and Atmosphere, as were works by Mark Koven, Wendy Wisher, and Ivan Toth Depena. Of those locals, Wendy's work has become part of the permanent collection.

18.

oldpro

January 11, 2006, 10:12 AM

Probably the judicious thing for Riley to do is what he seems to have been hired to do: shepherd the new building and keep as good a program going as possible in the meantime.

But if his ambition is wider than that he should be considering this set of facts.

Here's a major metropolitan area with no major municipal museum. We are getting a big flashy building in the middle of town. It is clear that some kind of major "central" art presence should be established, but there is no way possible to even begin to build a serious collection. What we have is a busy art scene, several specialized museums and a bunch of collectors with their own mini-museums. There is also a lot of uncommitted potential "art money" around.

But he cannot build a "museum". It is too late for that. What is needed here is imagination, the "out of the box" thinking that everone invokes but seldom engages in. The first step would be to banish the word and concept of "museum" and really start from scratch. If I were him I would immediately start thinking this way while I got the building going. He is going to need something to put in it and programs which are new and imaginative enough to make it worth the effort.

19.

George

January 11, 2006, 10:17 AM

Jack re#14:

Alluding to any comparison between Mr. Brown (FEMA) and Mr. Riley, misconstrues all the facts of the matter and is unfortunate at best.

I knew what you were implying with "or what should be the meat of this matter?" I was just pointing out, that I believe fund raising, or a face on the fund raising, will probably also be a big part of Mr. Riley's job.

I assume you are casting me as 'misty-eyed and wishful thinking', with yourself as the Cassandra no one can hear. The problem here is you are no Cassandra, capable of prophecy, rather you are just another person with a singular myopic point of view. I don't see your negative assessment of Mr. Riley as insightful at all, more just an extension of your own fears that MAM will not develop as you see fit. regardless of what anyone else in Miami feels about the matter.

Your assessment of Mr. Riley is based on assumptions, incorrect ones at that. It would appear to me that he would take his current position, in all its aspects, quite seriously. I would suggest that his experience at MOMA comprises much more than appears on the surface and will work greatly in his favor in his new role at MAM

Maybe Cassandra is saying, MAM will become a world class museum with art you don't like? Could happen.

PS. Although I do not know your qualifications, my suggestion that you apply for a curatorial job at MAM was not rhetoric but seems like a moot point now.

20.

oldpro

January 11, 2006, 10:20 AM

Kathleen it is

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/editorial/letters/13559308.htm

3rd letter down the list

21.

Jack

January 11, 2006, 10:25 AM

FRC (#13) writes that I should become part of the solution and get involved because MAM is a public entity. Even if I were to take that as a compliment as opposed to an admonition, we need look no further than Alesh's recent experience with the MPAC, another public entity, to know what would happen.

To recap, Alesh lost a job he was qualified for and had already been given because he'd made some mild criticisms in his blog of the outrageous waste and inefficiency that has characterized the MPAC project. The MPAC people, upon hearing any criticism of their mess from a taxpayer, should reflexively drop to their knees and beg forgiveness, not act like the injured party and screw the victim, but so it goes.

I've criticized MAM much more often and more vehemently than he did the MPAC. Does anybody even remotely believe I could work with the current MAM outfit, apart from the fact that I wouldn't want to? The whole idea is moot, anyway, for practical considerations I need not go into, but my point is this: sometimes, exposing and denouncing a problem IS being part of the solution.

22.

Franklin

January 11, 2006, 10:43 AM

People, chill. It's not fair to presume that MAM is going to act like MPAC towards its critics, namely, thuggishly. It's also not reasonable to presume that MAM would work with an uncredentialled (sp?) albeit eminently qualified person such as Jack as a curator. And Kathleen was not suggesting that Jack curate a show at MAM, but just curate a show, which I think is an excellent idea.

Kathleen, I said "tangentially" because they installed the Barge in the romper room, by the do-it-yourself Gego and whatnot, in what looked like an afterthought. What is the point of your remarks about Ivan, Wendy, and Mark?

23.

FRC

January 11, 2006, 10:46 AM

In #18 Oldpro provides constructive insight
towards the vision of a new MAM.

Let's have more of that.

24.

Jack

January 11, 2006, 10:47 AM

George, you know the principle I was getting at with the FEMA reference, but you may quibble if it suits you. Also, the Cassandra reference was aimed at your tendency to dismiss criticism you don't like as "defensive" or "defeatist," which doesn't wash with me.

Thanks, though, for setting us all straight as to the indisputable correctness of your assessment of the Riley hiring, as opposed to my "myopic" one, despite the fact that your knowledge and experience of the Miami art scene in general and MAM in particular is, shall we say, rather on the virtual side. As always, of course, I will keep my own counsel. I'm just funny that way.

25.

George

January 11, 2006, 11:25 AM

re #22 (sort of...)
Franklin, You saw the Fra Angelico exhibition at the Met when you were in NYC?
I thought you were going to write something on it, no?

26.

oldpro

January 11, 2006, 11:31 AM

I don't think anyone has accused me of "constructive insight" before , FRC. You are going to ruin my reputation as a negative old fart!

27.

Kathleen

January 11, 2006, 12:08 PM

Franklin, not so much a point, but I tend to think of the permanent collection MAM shows in terms of what is already in the permanent collection, what is borrowed, and in each of those categories, what is local. Barge, Koven, Toth Depena and Wischer were all local works not in the permanent collection. Wendy's was acquired. It was related to your remark about not knowing if Rene's work became part of the permanent collection.

I suppose tangental was a good way to describe its placement.

Thanks, Oldpro. I couldn't find that letter for the life of me. The Herald website is incredibly un-navigable.

28.

catfish

January 11, 2006, 12:13 PM

Yes, yes to oldpro's abandoment of the term museum. Without a billion or so to go shopping with, it just won't work out in our own lifetimes. Something else is in order. Imagination would be the key here, to answer thea obvious "what else then?"

29.

catfish

January 11, 2006, 12:31 PM

As far as the ultimate MFA for the 21st century goes (or any other ultimate art program), that is just another search for the Holy Grail, and in this case, perhaps combined with a continuation of the great Floridaian quest for the Fountain of Youth.

Us humans can behave like fools from time to time. As long as enough people agree it is not foolish behavior, it isn't. Especially when those in agreement are the "top" people and enlightened enough to understand that glowing rabbits are an important intermedia accomplishment. Would you call them "iRabbits" or "eRabbits"?

30.

catfish

January 11, 2006, 12:33 PM

And they probably eat Cezanne's iCarrots.

31.

James W. Bailey

January 11, 2006, 12:57 PM

As a Development Director, I can't help but be interested in the numbers:

I understand the following from MAM's web site:

MAM at Museum Park: A Private/Public Partnership
The total cost of MAM’s project is $175 million. The County has designated $100 million in GOB funds for MAM’s new building and sculpture park. MAM’s civic leadership is committed to raising $75 million for the project. Of this sum, $60 million is designated for an operating endowment. In addition to $75 million in private sector support, MAM will raise another $26 million in transitional operating support.

---

Looking at MAM's 2003 IRS Form 990 you get a social realist painting of financial reality:

Total income: $3.7 million

Total net assets: $3.2 million

MAM has apparently agreed to raise just over $100 million for this project. Taking a look at MAM's balance sheet it seems quite apparent that this dude Riley has a lot of freaking capital campaign, endowment and operating funds to raise. He's probably not talking about the art right now because the board that hired him no doubt told him his first priority job number one is finding the cash to fund and operate this new museum.

I'm not saying the art shouldn't come first, of course it should, but look at the figures because the figures don't lie - that's a hell of a lot of money in the current art museum development environment to raise. Experience tells me that with this much money still needed, and with no program plan for the new museum apparently in place, the art will occupy the back seat for some time during journey to the grand opening.

Offhand I don't know, but what is Riley's track record with development of funds for MoMA?

James W. Bailey

32.

Franklin

January 11, 2006, 2:09 PM

what is Riley's track record with development of funds for MoMA?

This (PDF):

"Named the Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at MoMA in 2002 after serving as a chief curator for 10 years, Riley played a key role in the completion of major expansion efforts at the museum. He was involved in the planning, design, fund raising, and ultimately the successful launching of MoMA’s expanded and renovated 630,000 square foot facility, which opened to international acclaim a year ago. ... In addition to strengthening the museum’s permanent collection and planning and executing important exhibitions on architecture and design, he has for many years served on the committee that develops the museum’s overall exhibition schedule in all media."

Not shabby at all.

33.

Franklin

January 11, 2006, 2:19 PM

The bunny's name is Alba. I oppose the use of animals for the purpose of making art, but Alba, at least, seems like she is loved and well cared for. I have heard of worse scenarios.

34.

Franklin

January 11, 2006, 3:06 PM

George, I'm trying to pitch Fra Angelico to a dead tree publication. If I don't hear something soon it will show up here.

35.

James W. Bailey

January 11, 2006, 3:06 PM

Franklin,

The link you provided is to a MAM press release. Glenn Lowery's MoMA press release (and resume) no doubt says that he (Glen Lowery) raised the bulk of the money.

Indeed, everybody in the Development Community knows the figure that Lowery claims he raised. He promotes it at very opportunity:

Glenn Lowry Presented with Distinguished Alumni Award - http://www.holderness.org/article.asp?ID=412&CategoryID=

He [Glenn Lowry] has secured grants from the city and the state, and exceeded those in private donations by a factor of better than twelve to one.

Key development "code phrases" from the MAM press release:

"...Riley played a key role..."

"He was involved in...fund raising..."

As a Development Officier, I'm interested in knowing what dollars does Riley attach to those code phrases that every development person uses when they apply for a job!

I don't have a horse in this race. I wish the best for Riley and MAM. I'm asking the question in the context of what will Riley's role really be in the neverending capital campaign battle of do-I-spend-my-time-today-developing-the-art-program-for-the-new-museum vs. do-I-spend-my-time-today-fundraising-to-build-the-new-museum.

For Riley to come into Miami from New York and be tasked with raising $100 million plus dollars in the current new museum development environment is beyond an enourmous challenge - it is a climb up Mt. Everest. Lowery has been kicking numbers around that he claims he raised for the MoMA project from day one. I've never heard any figures attached to Riley's role with regard fundraising at MoMA. I would be interested in knowing the figure he claims.

James

36.

Jack

January 11, 2006, 3:13 PM

Interesting, James (#31).

So MAM has total assets of $3.2 M, presumably including its, uh, modest permanent collection, and it proposes to get fancy new digs to the tune of $200 M.

What is wrong with this picture?

I'm not a museum-world insider or an economist, but is this a typical or "normal" scenario? Is it rational? Is it fiscally responsible? Or is it, just possibly, a case of ambition run amok?

37.

James W. Bailey

January 11, 2006, 3:15 PM

Forgive the spelling errors. Forgot to run it through spell checker.

James

38.

oldpro

January 11, 2006, 3:29 PM

When it comes to misusing living things for "art", well, I don't think I want to look at your "worse scenario" link, Franklin. I know of some, and they are pretty awful.

Kathleen, The high & mighty NY Times is no better. I have found that the only way to navigate newspaper sites without putting your fist through the screen is to regard them as complex computer puzzles you are solving for the fun of it.

39.

James W. Bailey

January 11, 2006, 3:46 PM

Dear Jack,

I'm going to go out on a limb here - and if I'm wrong I'll gladly accept the correction.

Typically, and I have absolutely no doubt that this will be the case in MAM's situation, a governmental entity (The City of Miami or Dade County, for example) will structure a lease deal whereby the governmental entity will actually own the new museum building and the land on which it sits. A not for profit 501(c)3 organization (MAM) is then given a management lease to occupy and manage the facility. Essentially, the non profit is expected to fundraise for a building that they will not own and cannot place in their asset column. Of course, they do have (in most cases) a long-term lease that is counted as an asset. But at the end of the day, non profit resources are used to raise money for a building they will not own.

Many museums under the so-called private/public partnership concept are financed this way. The Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville would be an example among many many others.

Now, taking off my development officer hat and putting on my artist hat, here's the major issue that never gets publicly discussed with the above finance/lease agreements that always bothers me: every public/private partnership lease agreement for an art museum/art center that I'm aware of has a multitude of exhibition content/subject matter restrictions that the managing 501(c)3 agrees to comply with in order to occupy and manage the new building. Many leases actually require the managing arts organization (what is in the public's mind "the museum") to vet exhibits for approval by the lease holder. This is done to filter out potentially offensive work.

I have seen various boards of directors go to war over these leases. For example, one faction of the board has no interest whatsoever in controversial art (whatever that might be) and demands that the lease be signed. Other board members say, "Hey, hold on! Who are they (the government) to tell us what exhibits we can or can't have in the new museum. It's OUR museum. We can exhibit what the hell we want!"

It's at that point in the board meeting where the cool-headed commercial land development board member (every arts organization has got to have one of those dudes on the board) stands up and politely reminds the 1st Amendment folks that "We don't really OWN the building. It ain't ours; it's theirs. If we really want to move into this new museum buidling, then we have no choice but to sign the lease."

Again, I don't know that this is indeed the course that MAM is set to travel. However, these types of lease agreements are extremely common with respect to bond financed so-called public/private cultural facilities.

James

40.

Jack

January 11, 2006, 4:23 PM

James, how much private sector money was raised for the MOMA project? In other words, relatively speaking, how does the $100 M needed by MAM in private money compare to what MOMA, which is obviously in a dramatically different category, was able to raise?

41.

James W. Bailey

January 11, 2006, 5:08 PM

Dear Jack,

I'm reluctant to give a breakdown because it's been awhile since I've read recently announced figures. However, if I recall, I believe MoMA's original goal was in the $860 million range. It seems as though I last read that they had raised something over $700 million. As for the public/private breakdown of money, I tried to look at MoMA's IRS Form 990 online, but Adobe for some reason is no working for me at the moment. You can view it at guidestar.org. Warning: MoMA's return is a big damn tax form! I think only the Guggenheim's rivals it!

I wanted to post the below because I thought you might find it of interest. There are very few foundations that provide grant monies for brick and mortar probjects. The best known without a doubt is the Kresge Foundation. Their application process is extremely rigorous.

Here's the relevent part I'd like to share:http://www.kresge.org/programs/bricks_mort.htm

Campaign strategy is determined.

Leadership gifts and pledges are committed. As a rule of thumb, at least 20% and sometimes as much as 50% of your private fund raising goal should be raised before applying to the Foundation. We expect commitments from your board, other individuals, and possibly corporations and foundations. Such gifts convey strong, validating support for your organization and for your project.

Note:

Relatively few board members contributing to your project will be viewed with concern and should be discussed in your application.

A “rifle-shot” campaign designed to approach a few selected prospects usually does not present as compelling a challenge opportunity as a fund raising strategy to approach a broad and diverse number of prospects.

We have no minimum or maximum campaign goals, but total fund raising efforts under $750,000 are less competitive and may be viewed as more appropriately supported by the organization’s community.

Using unrestricted gifts from a larger campaign does not present as strong a case as one which has donor-designated gift support toward the project presented to Kresge.

Government grants may be a component in meeting your project costs. However, since our grants are more effective in challenging the private sector to fund nonprofit projects, significant government grants should be committed prior to making an application, imminent or backstopped. For more information, see discussion on how to backstop funds below.

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I'd like to emphasize that in my experience with Kresge that even if the organization has raised 50% of their goal, they (Kresge) don't get impressed with a museum's application for construction funds unless the amount contributed by the board of the organization exceeds 40% of the goal. In other words, they want to see that the board is putting its money where it's mouth is.

Again, I have no idea what the current board of MAM has pledged (or plans to pledge) to this campaign. If MAM has not already filed for a Kresge Challenge Grant, then they certainly need to do so.

But the fact remains that the Kresge Foundation (which really sets the bar for what an organized capital campaign should be) just like any other potential foundation, corporate or indiviual donor, will take a very close look at how much money that board has ponied up before assesing their potential gift.

I suppose the major caveat with this type of bond financed public/private partnership cultural project is that if the individual not for profit 501(c)3s who have obligated themselves to raise X amount of money are unable to do so, who steps in and makes up the difference? It's usually the taxpapers.

But as an artist, my major complaint with these projects has always been centered on the limits of curtorial freedom that result from an arts organization signing a lease agreement whose exhibit content restrictions are stipulated by the true owner of the building.

James

42.

James W. Bailey

January 11, 2006, 5:11 PM

Sorry. More spelling errors above. I'm using a crap computer at an airport.

James

43.

Jack

January 11, 2006, 7:26 PM

So James, taking $200 M as the total goal for MAM, you're saying the Kresge people would expect the MAM board to contribute $80 M or more themselves. I suppose that's theoretically possible, but I very seriously doubt it's likely--that's one hell of a lot of money, and this is not NYC. Which brings us to:

The major caveat with this type of bond financed public/private partnership cultural project is that if the individual not for profit 501(c)3s who have obligated themselves to raise X amount of money are unable to do so, who steps in and makes up the difference? It's usually the taxpapers.

Lovely. How delightfully convenient. I know I couldn't be happier with such a scheme, I mean prospect. It'd be for our own good, of course. After all, the MAM organization has been pushing for this with all its might, and they're art establishment people--you know, experts and all--so we should just relax and leave them to it. Surely they know best.

Did anyone say MPAC? Nah; must have been rap noise from a passing car.

In a pig's eye.

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