Posted 19 August 2003 - 08:04 PM
The issue of donors and demands is not confined to ballet. I remember a church board meeting once where someone had to go call the family who'd donated monies to build a youth chapel and say "We want to hold such and such an event in the chapel, does that meet with your approval?"
It did NOT, so the event was not held. The joke is, the chapel was named after the donors and they weren't comfortable with that, but they were plenty comfortable offering "guidance" as to how the place should be used.
And I thought at the time, if the chapel was truly a GIFT then there shouldn't have been any strings attached except maybe the general guideline "We want to help the youth, so here's a chapel for them to use." If my mother gives me a dress for my birthday, I don't call her and ask if I want to wear it someplace. Someone donates furniture for the lobby of the Ballet School and we're thankful and take good care of it, but we don't say "Only the girls are allowed to sit on the couches, boys get the floor because the donors wanted to help the GIRLS." That would just be silly.
I understand being thankful for donations. But I also understand that when I am in a position to donate time, money, whatever, it is my responsibility to choose an organization I trust to make the best use of whatever resource I have to share. When I toss my offering in at church, I wouldn't dream of attaching a note that said "You can't use this money to fix the air conditioner, because churches don't need air conditioning." That's silly. If a donor has a specific personal agenda, it's up to the donor to find an organization that meshes with that agenda.
Does that make sense?
We have a zoo in our area that started out as a big land donation. It was a gift to the city from someone who loved monkeys and wanted a place where children could go see the monkeys, and one of the stipulations attached is the necessity of keeping at least 50 monkeys on the grounds. It's a nice little zoo (best monkey section around!,) and without the initial gift of land and the accompanying monkeys many years ago it wouldn't exist today. But I think that kind of stipulation - land to build a zoo, but the zoo needs to have monkeys - is a whole different ball game than, say, "I'll donate $1 million to your ballet company but you must promise never to perform such-and-such because that piece is such a bore" or "I'll donate this chapel to the church, but you can't hold such-and-such an activity there." You can't really afford to say "Thanks, but no thanks," but are you comfortable with the green strings?
My husband and I were discussing this issue only because it HAS cropped up in various things we're involved in. Church, the liberal arts college we attended, arts organizations, etc. I know there aren't any easy answers.
I'm know I'm not being witty in my response, but thanks for making me think.