NEAL BENEZRA is not a showman. But as museum directors nationwide face plummeting endowments and potentially crippling budget cuts, Mr. Benezra’s even-keeled approach and penchant for collaboration in his stewardship of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art may be a blueprint for how to endure the financial uncertainty.
Arts, Culture & Humanities
“That was then; this is now.” A blunt expression often used in negotiations when one party wants to make clear to the other that previously reasonable expectations are unlikely to be met because of some adverse and unalterable change in circumstances. It is an expression that the cultural sector’s leadership is likely to hear frequently over the next few years as it seeks to navigate a radically changed economic and political map. The global recession that we have entered will not just knock the froth off things; it will permanently reconfigure the cultural landscape. This may happen more slowly and the events may be less flamboyantly newsworthy than the bankruptcy of Iceland, the collapse of the international banking system or the failure of the American mortgage industry, but the underlying forces at work are just as strong—indeed, they are the same forces.
Some 150 yoga fanatics, mats in hand, gathered in the second-floor atrium of the Museum of Modern Art one recent Saturday morning. They were there to “Put the oM in MoMA,” as the invitation read.
When even the Metropolitan Museum of Art is laying off staff members, what do you do if your financial base is less Fifth Avenue and more Queens Boulevard?
Museums, theaters and operas, already reeling from the recession, are having a tough time attracting support amid perceptions that vital services like soup kitchens and homeless shelters should receive funds first.
In one of the largest such gifts ever to the Music Center or any of its resident companies, Los Angeles philanthropist Glorya Kaufman is donating $20 million to the Dance at the Music Center program.
The J. Paul Getty Trust, envied as the economic Goliath of the museum world, is slashing its operating budget nearly 25% for the coming fiscal year, an emergency response to investment losses that have totaled $1.5 billion since July and nearly $2 billion since mid-2007.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has announced that it will lay off more than a quarter of its merchandising staff, eliminating 74 jobs in addition to the 53 it cut last year, the New York Times reports.
After doling out hundreds of millions of dollars over several decades, one of the few major philanthropies in the Philadelphia region began a quick fade from the scene with the death yesterday of its ardent doyenne of hometown causes.
The recession is hitting Puget Sound arts and cultural organizations hard, calling for bold steps to manage through the crisis, a study of local arts groups found.