SanderO

Arts Funding

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After listening to a presentation about the Koch brothers which in fact included mention of the ABT, Met Opera and Lincoln Center I have decided to write to these organizations and note that I am boycotting them and will agitate that others do the same until they reconsider where they receive their funding from.

One point made in the show was that Koch was given a seat on the Sloan Kettering board which be the owner of the company which produces formaldehyde a known carcinogen which has been inserted into many products in our environment. This I believe led to his being removed from the board for the blatant conflict of interest.

I suspect of these cherished arts institutions had truly done their homework on the Koch brothers as Jane Mayer did in her recent article they might have (hopefully) refused his "charity". If they had and then accepted his money it is extremely troubling to me and a reason for me to withdraw my support. You don't make deals with the devil, or don't they bother to pay attention to Faust?

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:(

SanderO,

Obviously you're free to boycott anything that you think needs boycotting, but as you don't seem to be a expert on Chemical Engineering, nor on Chemistry, nor a MD, perhaps you may want to read this. Despite of being wikipedia, it seems a good introductory article. Formaldehyde is a important chemical, not only for its economic importance to the evil chemical corporations, but also as an affordable antiseptic that saves lives.

:tiphat:

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But if we accept that people like Koch exist and are wealthy, and are going to give away funds, why exclude his money from whatever you happen to consider "worthy" institutions? is it better for him to just support his political causes? I doubt that, for example, a tea party group would refuse his money because he also supports the "elitist" NYCB.

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Altria is all over the arts world. The only thing that's changed is the name. In 2009, the company gave $3 million to arts organizations. (If you click the link at the bottom to download the detailed list, you'll need to rename the file to remove the ".aspx" or possible "open with" Adobe.)

But the name change is significant. Phillip Morris tried to hide under the Kraft brand name for a while but found that not to be so effective.

I'd bet quite of few people wouldn't make a connection between Altria and Phillip Morris. The name change has partially laudered the brand name.

Still and all, if I were in arts adminstration, I'd probably take their donations. It's how the whole mechanism of arts support works here in the US and I don't see that changing much.

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Altria is all over the arts world. The only thing that's changed is the name. In 2009, the company gave $3 million to arts organizations. (If you click the link at the bottom to download the detailed list, you'll need to rename the file to remove the ".aspx" or possible "open with" Adobe.)

But the name change is significant. Phillip Morris tried to hide under the Kraft brand name for a while but found that not to be so effective.

Absolutely. I doubt this was triggered by issues with arts organizations, though. They had many more image problems than that.

I haven't seen any official news that arts organization have turned down their money because of their core businesses. It is possible for other donors to tell administration that they will pull their funds if the institution accepts money from ABC (private donor, foundation, or company), and that this stays behind closed doors, but there's no evidence that this has happened.

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Obviously you're free to boycott anything that you think needs boycotting, but as you don't seem to be a expert on Chemical Engineering, nor on Chemistry, nor a MD, perhaps you may want to read this. Despite of being wikipedia, it seems a good introductory article. Formaldehyde is a important chemical, not only for its economic importance to the evil chemical corporations, but also as an affordable antiseptic that saves lives.

I would suggest courteously that SanderO's scientific credentials or lack thereof are beside the point. :) Koch gives money to cancer research, which is a good thing, and then lobbies against the EPA classifying formaldehyde as a carcinogen, which would seem to pose a considerable conflict of interest since Koch Industries happens to produce enormous amounts of the stuff. (Mayer quotes a former honcho at Sloan Kettering as saying that tobacco dough is the only type of money they won’t accept. )

Still and all, if I were in arts adminstration, I'd probably take their donations. It's how the whole mechanism of arts support works here in the US and I don't see that changing much.

True.

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What I would prefer to see is that donations are funneled through some sort of arts umbrella organization and are effectively anonymously passed on to the individual arts organizations.

That's an attractive idea in theory, but political considerations will inevitably play a part in the appointment of the members of that umbrella organization. And a conservative like Koch can't be expected to donate if he knows his money might go to downtown dance.

Why do these donors need their names published in playbills, plastered on the back of the seats over the doors to rooms in the hall.

Because a rich man is just a man like any other, a man in Joni Mitchell's words, like “a chicken scratching for [his] my immortality.”

I hated the name "Koch Theater" from the first, before I knew a thing about the guy's politics. Still, yes it would be wonderful if we could all forswear vanity, but . . . you first. :)

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bart writes:

Economic inequality has increased steadily since the 1980s. So, who is left but the wealthy if one needs big money for good (or indeed for bad) causes? Since the wealthy have received the lion's share of tax cuts during the same period, they at least have the money. It's our own version of trickle-down economics.

"Trickle" being the operative word these days.

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Out of interest, is it common for theatres to be named after donors in the US? In the UK if theatres are named after someone it's usually theatrical luminaries, Ashcroft, Gielgud. Olivier etc. With arts funding drying up and organizations trawling around for sponsors that may change though.

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Commercial and non-profit theaters in the US are often named after Important People in Theatre (Sondheim, Neil Simon, Richard Rodgers, Eugene O'Neill), but for ballet and opera, in Europe, the big theaters are generally named "Royal" and/or "Opera House"; the biggest exceptions are the Palais Garnier and Opera Bastille.

In the US, where ballet is performed, there are in number of "Capitol" theaters in state capitols and not, civic names, like War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco, general names, like Symphony Hall (Phoenix), Academy of Music (Philadelphia), and Auditorium Theatre (Chicago), and institutional names, like Metropolitan Opera House.

In the last four-five decades, most new or newly endowed theater complexes (Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center [Atlanta], AT&T Performing Arts Center [Dallas], Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts [Miami], Citi Performing Arts Center [boston]) and theaters (Wang Theatre [boston], have have been named after donors and companies, as have most of the newly built/completely renovated theaters (Marian Oliver McCaw Hall [seattle], Winspear Opera House [Dallas]). Also the Four Seasons Centre in Toronto.

In the US, there is a long tradition of naming hospital wings, pavilions, and buildings, university buildings, and libraries, after donors. For the far less wealthy, there are the building donor walls.

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Out of interest, is it common for theatres to be named after donors in the US? In the UK if theatres are named after someone it's usually theatrical luminaries, Ashcroft, Gielgud. Olivier etc. With arts funding drying up and organizations trawling around for sponsors that may change though.

Mashinka,

At this point I think it would be exceptional for a performance venue not to be named after a donor. Naming rights are even awarded to parts of venues. Carnegie Hall, for instance, houses three separately named theaters: Stern Auditorium, Zankel Hall, and Weill Hall. The former is named after the violinist Isaac Stern, who was instrumental (um, no pun intended) in saving Carnegie Hall from the wrecking ball in the 60's. (Thank heavens 1) that the house was saved and 2) that the organization had the grace to name the largest auditorium after someone who did something other than write checks to make that happen.) The latter two, however, are named after donors.

It's also not uncommon for non-stage sections of venues--e.g., atriums and terraces-- to be separately named. Most famously, the Metropolitan Opera's "Vilar Grand Tier" was rather unceremoniously unnamed when the donor (Alberto Vilar) was convicted of fraud and failed to deliver the amount he'd pledged. (His name was taken off of the Royal Opera House, too, if I recall correctly.)

Here's a list of Lincoln Center venues. My guess is that every name used (with the exception of the Metropolitan Opera, of course) is that of a donor.

  • David H. Koch Theater
  • Damrosch Park
  • Metropolitan Opera House
    Arnold and Marie Schwartz Gallery Met
  • New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
  • Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater
    Vivian Beaumont Theater
  • Josie Robertson Plaza
  • Avery Fisher Hall
  • Alice Tully Hall, Starr Theater
  • The Juilliard School
    Morse Recital Hall
    Paul Recital Hall
    Peter Jay Sharp Theater
    Stephanie P. McClelland Drama Theater
  • Samuel B. & David Rose Building
    The Clark Studio Theater
    Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse
    Daniel and Joanna S. Rose Rehearsal Studio
  • The Walter Reade Theater
    Frieda and Roy Furman Gallery
  • Hearst Plaza
    Barclays Capital Grove
  • Time Warner Building
    Frederick P. Rose Hall
    Rose Theater
    Allen Room
    Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola
    Irene Diamond Education Center

As you can see, the performance hall inside Alice Tully hall now called "The Starr Theater." But other parts of the hall have been re-named as well: we now have the "Citi Balcony," "the Morgan Stanley Lobby," and the "Hauser Patron Salon" (admittance by invitation only).

So far, no one's ponied up enough $ to bump Abraham Lincoln from top billing.

The mere mortals among us may name seats. For a mere $5,000, for instance, you can name a seat in Alice Tully Hall. (But note that a "prime" seat -- center orchestra rows J-T-- goes for $10,000. You get a $1,000 per seat discount if you name two ...)

It's not just the arts -- big sports arenas now sell naming rights to large corporations. (You would not believe the outcry when this first happened!) Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros, was once Enron Field. Lo how the mighty have fallen.

It would be gracious if a big donor were to say "Oh no, please name it after fabulous artist or humanitarian X, not me!" of course, but I actually find it less offensive to name a theater after a donor than to name a highway after a sitting State Governor or Legislator. That always rubs me the wrong way, even if said governor or legislator was instrumental in wangling the requisite pork. That's what they're paid to do, after all ... :wink:

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My guess is that every name used (with the exception of the Metropolitan Opera, of course) is that of a donor.

    [*]David H. Koch Theater[*]Damrosch Park[*]Metropolitan Opera House

Very close to all, but Damrosch Park was named after conductor Walter Damrosch, who helped popularize classical music.

So far, no one's ponied up enough $ to bump Abraham Lincoln from top billing.

:rofl: and :crying:

It's not just the arts -- big sports arenas now sell naming rights to large corporations. (You would not believe the outcry when this first happened!) Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros, was once Enron Field. Lo how the mighty have fallen.

Naming rights for sports arenas are for fixed periods, and after that, they or someone/some other business has to cough up the money for the next period. I wonder how long it will be before the same is true of performing arts centers and halls.

If I had beaucoup $$$, there would be something associated with electricians at some opera house named after my parents.

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Damrosch Park was named after conductor Walter Damrosch, who helped popularize classical music.

Thank goodness for that! (And thanks for pointing it out!)

Naming rights for sports arenas are for fixed periods, and after that, they or someone/some other business has to cough up the money for the next period. I wonder how long it will be before the same is true of performing arts centers and halls.

This very issue has come up with respect to the planned renovation of Avery Fischer Hall. From The New York Times:

The final cost of a more extensive Avery Fisher renovation has yet to be determined, along with how expenses will be divided between the Philharmonic and Lincoln Center.

Raising money for the renovation is expected to require a major naming opportunity, along the lines of the recent $100 million gift by the oil and gas billionaire David H. Koch to the New York State Theater — home to New York City Ballet and New York City Opera — which now bears his name. The family of Avery Fisher, for whom the orchestra's hall was renamed in 1973, has threatened legal action if the building's name were to be changed, but the auditorium inside could be named after a donor.

If I had beaucoup $, there would be something associated with electricians at some opera house named after my parents.

The Parents of Helene Kaplan Fusebox? :wink: At least there's Electchester in Queens to honor Local 3 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers of New York ...

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The Parents of Helene Kaplan Fusebox? :wink: At least there's Electchester in Queens to honor Local 3 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers of New York ...

:lol:

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Avery Fisher Hall was renamed after Fisher donated 10.5 million to the New York Philharmonic in 1973. According to the Deparment of Labor inflation calculator, that would be worth 51.56 million today. Going by that standard, renaming the Koch Theater for a 100 million donation does not seem unreasonable.

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New York City is so expensive. The naming rights to Benaroya Hall, where the Seattle Symphony plays, cost Jack Benaroya $15 million in the late 1990's.

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Here's a list of Lincoln Center venues. My guess is that every name used (with the exception of the Metropolitan Opera, of course) is that of a donor.

  • The Walter Reade Theater
  • Time Warner Building
    Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola

Actually, the Time-Warner Building, which is an office/hotel/shopping/restaurant/theater complex, is the property of Time-Warner, so it can name it anything it wants. The theatrical venues are the stages of Jazz at Lincoln Center. Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola is a restaurant, a commercial venture. Not sure what its tie is to Coke (not to be confused with Koch).

Walter Reade Jr., whose bust appears in the lobby of the eponymous theater, died prematurely in the mid-1970s -- long, long before the theater was built -- so he didn't pull a David Koch. At the time of the theater's opening, The New York Times noted:

The theater is named for Walter Reade Jr., who was president and chairman of the theater chain that bore his name. In 1985, the Walter Reade Foundation donated $1.5 million for construction of the theater, which was designed by the New York architectural firm of David, Brody & Associates. The cost was $7.5 million, said Joanne Koch, the executive director of the Film Society, but 40 percent of that amount was offset by the sale of air rights on the site. The society still has an $800,000 gap to close.

So far, no one's ponied up enough $ to bump Abraham Lincoln from top billing.
The neighborhood was known as Lincoln Square decades before ground was broken for the arts center. But who knows?
It would be gracious if a big donor were to say "Oh no, please name it after fabulous artist or humanitarian X, not me!" of course, but I actually find it less offensive to name a theater after a donor than to name a highway after a sitting State Governor or Legislator. That always rubs me the wrong way, even if said governor or legislator was instrumental in wangling the requisite pork. That's what they're paid to do, after all ... :wink:
Agreed! It's shameless political advertising and should be illegal.

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Here's a list of Lincoln Center venues. My guess is that every name used (with the exception of the Metropolitan Opera, of course) is that of a donor.

  • The Walter Reade Theater
  • Time Warner Building
    Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola

Actually, the Time-Warner Building, which is an office/hotel/shopping/restaurant/theater complex, is the property of Time-Warner, so it can name it anything it wants. The theatrical venues are the stages of Jazz at Lincoln Center. Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola is a restaurant, a commercial venture. Not sure what its tie is to Coke (not to be confused with Koch).

This was lazy cutting and pasting on my part. As you've pointed out, the Time Warner Building is where the Jazz at Lincoln Center theaters are housed. Why the Lincoln Center website omits "Jazz at Lincoln Center" from the venue listing is a mystery to me since it's what the marquee over the entrance says, even though the theaters are used for non-jazz related performances too. I should have excised "Time Warner Building" and pasted in "Jazz at Lincoln Center" or "Jazz at Lincoln Center [in the Time Warner Building]" or something like that just to be clear.

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I was having trouble finding it when I posted above, and this is just a little bit off the track of what we've been discussing, but still close enough to be on-topic.

A couple of days ago, American Public Media's Marketplace ran a feature on how to commission a work of -- in this case -- music. We know about investment clubs, where a small number of people pool a modest sum each month or quarter to invest in the stock market. This group is similar, but instead of buying securities, they invest in music. I wonder if a group of BT-ers would be interested in joining forces to collectively commission new ballets. (This is not a formal invitation, just a musing.)

You Too Can Be a Patron of the Arts

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I would suggest courteously that SanderO's scientific credentials or lack thereof are beside the point. :) Koch gives money to cancer research, which is a good thing, and then lobbies against the EPA classifying formaldehyde as a carcinogen, which would seem to pose a considerable conflict of interest since Koch Industries happens to produce enormous amounts of the stuff. (Mayer quotes a former honcho at Sloan Kettering as saying that tobacco dough is the only type of money they won't accept. )

Point.

But from I know abut EPA's past performances and its heavy-handed approach to safety, that lobbying *could* be a sensible thing to do, while sponsoring *real* research on cancer. Probably EPA would want to ban MDF board and other timber-derived goods, driving the industry to search for substitutes more expensive, with less quality and/or less environmentally-friendly. What would happen to Ikea furniture, then?

There is a interesting section in Bjorn Lomborg's "The Skeptic Environmentalist" where the author presents some quantitative values on ratios of cost of preventing a risk vs. estimated number of lives saved because of not being exposed to such risk. Very informative. This is not a pure utilitarian, cold-blooded consideration: it's basic economics: if there are still people dying for the lack of, for instance, $1,000, spending $400,000 for saving only one life does not make much sense.

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For what it's worth, Dizzy's Club Coca Cola does serve food, but it's a jazz club. The JALC portion of the building also holds the Rose Theater, the Allen Room, and the Irene Diamond Education Center. Obviously the latter two sound like they're named after donors, and the whole complex is named Frederick P. Rose Hall.

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Yes, I saw this and didn't read till now. All fascinating, and obvious that it can make no practical sense to refuse money at some level from anyone at all. It has to do with class identity, of course, and Tea Party people can be thought to be 'no-class' by some of those 'effete elitist types', but they're not illegal.

Nightclubs have often been run by Mafia, and some of them presented real talent. Las Vegas is as born of Mafia as Athena was of Zeus. People go pay and spend all their savings on various forms of schlock in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. I recall the late philosopher Jean Baudrillard saying that it is hypocritical in the extreme that the overt Mafias are treated as having anything underneath them that is fundamentally different from what runs the business world and capitalist endeavour in general. While probably true, that's 'not the way things are done' as long as there is High Art, which learns it can do without some of the tobacco money (I got confused in the thread about that, whether maybe some still took it, but no matter), so it's really not whether who anyone's taking money from is 'such a bad thing', but are they up high enough to at least refuse it from some 'outed' odious types? Well, yes, they can refuse to take it from the Mafia and, I guess, some tobacco companies. It's all hypocritical, and even the art doesn't redeem that, because it's of course true that art is in the world quite as everything else is. At least, to some degree. In being in the world, it's also hypocritical. I've never found a single thing that didn't have some internal contradiction in it somewhere--saints no less than sinners.

I didn't know that the Mayer article had already been posted, sorry. When I read the Rich, I knew something more about the Kochs (people who worked for them and knew them socially years ago told me about them), although I don't hold any strong opinion, having given up the idea of 'purification' in any material sense years ago. I guess I thought Rich was exactly right to say that, somehow though, the New York elite liberal community, including the New Yorkers who know City Ballet well, would indeed find it 'startling' about the Texas'...etc. Well, of course, people in high places go down too, as we've seen many times. What interested me about the article was simply that people didn't know that much about the Kochs' involvement with the Tea Party and Murdoch, too, I guess.

But--of course it affects what goes onstage to some degree, it's not possible to separate the money, whether or not some of its blood money in some cases or just well-removed 'capital theft' and 'business theft', obviously this effects the artists, they don't live in an isolated world. It's just not possible to prove this, and philosophers and theorists do talk about these things all the time, in their ideological analyses of movies and pop work and high art. One just makes the best of whatever deal you can get.

I'm sure I'd take money from Koch if I could get it. And 'Sopranos' fans may remember that Dr. Melfi, who did take money from Tony Soprano, sent Carmela, Tony's wife, to another shrink, who would not take 'blood money', as he called it. That shrink told Carmela to leave Tony, and she just couldn't pull it together to do that, so she compromised with getting Tony to make some huge contribution to some good cause, a school or some charitable organization. But his colleague, Dr. Melfi, continued to profit from the Soprano Enterprises.

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But--of course it affects what goes onstage to some degree, it's not possible to separate the money, whether or not some of its blood money in some cases or just well-removed 'capital theft' and 'business theft', obviously this effects the artists, they don't live in an isolated world.

I'm not sure that's the case at all. On the dancers' level, most don't seem to be big readers, and as such aren't likely to know much, or care much, about Koch and his politics; and those who do they don't decide what goes on stage. In regards to those who are making the artistic decisions, movement and choreography, at least in ballet, are largely apolitical.

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What interested me about the article was simply that people didn't know that much about the Kochs' involvement with the Tea Party and Murdoch, too, I guess.

The Kochs have been very successful in flying under the radar since David's ill fated run for president on the Libertarian ticket several decades ago. Despite Koch's public complaints this weekend that the liberal media are being really mean to him, Mayer's article is the first mainstream article to go into such depth following the Kochs' money trail and as such it's caused quite a fuss.

Nightclubs have often been run by Mafia, and some of them presented real talent.

True, but I don't think NYCB will be putting any wiseguys on the board any time soon. :)

But--of course it affects what goes onstage to some degree, it's not possible to separate the money, whether or not some of its blood money in some cases or just well-removed 'capital theft' and 'business theft', obviously this effects the artists, they don't live in an isolated world.

I agree. Ballet is a cloistered world, but not that cloistered.

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