Friday, February 26, 2010

The New Britain Museum of American Art feels that deaccessioning works from the permanent collection is not such a bad thing.

Don't get too excited. The New Britain Museum still holds to the "deaccession only to buy other artworks" theory. But they have weighed in.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Brandeis Faces Faculty and Program Cuts

More recession devastation.

A Brandeis University committee has recommended cutting more than 20 faculty positions and dropping some academic programs in response to financial pressures caused by the economic downturn. Dean of arts and sciences Adam Jaffe tells The Boston Globe that the proposed cuts, which the provost is expected to review in coming weeks, would be carried out over a number of years and eventually save $3.8 million annually.

The cuts include the elimination of the graduate program in theater design. More from the Mass AP News.


Friday, February 19, 2010

State Urged to Investigate Fresno Art Museum

A local attorney is asking the state Attorney General's Office to investigate whether it is proper for the Fresno Metropolitan Museum to sell off its collection to satisfy its debts. Fresno attorney Robert Rosati's action comes as the museum is scheduled to auction its non-art property today, with proceeds going toward the $4 million in debt that led in part to the museum's demise last month. Rosati claims that The Met, in being granted nonprofit status, agreed that its assets were public and would be used for public purposes. If the museum ever dissolved, Rosati contends, its assets should continue to be used for a public purpose.

More from the Fresno Bee here.


Is the Fresno Art Museum -- the only modern art museum between San Francisco and Los Angeles also on the brink?

Fresno's Art Museum: the Museum is faced with making some very difficult decisions about the next season of exhibitions and educational programs. We've "tightened our belts" and already made some critical decisions and adjustments but we're still in a very vulnerable position.

Judith Dobrzynski has more on this. If it does close, I think that makes it three closed since I pronounced 10 museums would close. I may just hit my mark by the end of this year.

Michael Kaiser: My Peers Are Angry With Me

Kaiser writes about frustrated nonprofits. In full disclosure, I'm a mentor with the Kennedy Center's Arts in Crisis program, and truth be told, I have not had much problem convincing nonprofits I speak with to increase programming and marketing. Here are some of Kaiser's thoughts:

Many arts managers are angry with me. They do not appreciate my advice not to cut programming during this recession. I continue to say that creating large, important projects is central to creating fiscal health. Especially when there is less money for the arts (and there is less money for the arts today), arts organizations must compete harder. As donors decide which organizations to continue to support, the institutions that are doing vital, important work are the ones who will continue to be supported. Not only must the work be interesting but the marketing of that work and of the institution as a whole must be aggressive and creative.

One arts leader accused me publicly of living in a parallel universe. He was quite upset that his artistic director and his unionized artists threw my advice in his face when he felt he had to make programming cuts. He was dealing with a substantial budget shortfall and saw no other recourse than to cut programming. He was not amused that his artists kept saying, "Michael Kaiser says this, Michael Kaiser says that."

The rest of his thoughts are at The Huffington Post.


Monday, February 1, 2010

More Deaccessioning Thoughts from Dobrzynski

Judith H. Dobrzynski shares "a few more impressions, based on developments and discussions since [the] publication of her op-ed in The New York Times on Jan. 2.

It's sad, but true, that several people on both sides of the issue told me that I was "brave" to propose something at odds with the official AAMD/AAM position. It was as if I had voluntarily touched the Third Rail of the museum world.

This sentiment was borne out at the Brodsky bill roundtable: People are afraid to discuss the very possibility. There was almost no dissent (except for objections to an unfunded mandate) until, at 1 p.m., two hours after the Committee on Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports convened the roundtable, Brodsky satisfyingly looked around and said it was the last chance for people who differed with him to speak up. Only then did people rise to the mike to disagree or question the bill, and only then did the rumbles in the audience begin.

More troubling still, one thing I've learned since Jan. 2 is precisely how little trust exists in the museum world. Directors don't trust their trustees; trustees don't trust one another; many trustees don't trust their directors. I knew there was some amount of mistrust -- but I didn't know relations were this bad.

Museum directors -- even some you think are strong -- fear their trustees, finding it hard to disagree with the powerful ones, ever. (I know, I know, trustees provide the money, and directors work for the board, but absolute obeisance is unhealthy.)

While it's no secret that trustees join boards because they contribute money or art, too many trustees have little interest in art -- maybe none. If they're there only for the prestige and the power, I blame the nominating committee and the board chairman.