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#16 SanderO

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Posted 23 August 2010 - 01:21 PM

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. Now this may make little difference, dropping all the donations into one pot and having them then passed to the arts organizations, but I find the ego issues such as the naming of these buildings etc. rather disgusting. These are like trophies for these billionaires thrust in our faces.

And this is irrespective of the politics of the donors, which in the case of the Koch is troubling to me.

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.

If they are truly interested in the arts, why do these people make it about themselves? Why must they AND these arts organizations stoop to this crass catering to these elitists who buy the arts to assuage their consciences? Obviously there are some philanthropists and supporters of the arts who are not so ego driven as the Koch brothers. I find it almost equally shameful how arts organizations are forced to play this game simply to survive. How sad this is.

#17 bart

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Posted 23 August 2010 - 01:45 PM

It's always interesting when this topic comes up on Ballet Talk. AsThomas Mann (or someone) once wrote: "There is nothing that is not political." That definitely includes the arts and just about anything to do with money.

As dirac writes, lines are always being drawn in this kind of thing. It is highly unlikely, for instance, that a major arts organization would accept (or at least publicize) a grant from a tobacco company today, though this would have been unexceptionable 40 years ago.

The "line" between public and private financing of the arts has retreated in the United States to where it was in the 1920s and during the first few years of the Depression. Given the nature of U.S. political discourse today -- where the simplest government regulation can be demonized as "socialism" (a very bad thing, apparently) and support of the classical arts can be dismissed as "elitism" (almost as bad) -- it doesn't seem practical to hope for much from government funding or even government oversight. I wish this were not the case.

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.

____________________________

That said, I have a question: is the American Ballet Theater forum the right place for this discussion?

#18 dirac

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Posted 23 August 2010 - 01:59 PM

Thanks, bart. You have a point about location - maybe "Ballet News and Issues" or "Other Arts" would be better?

People forget that when David Stockman (Reagan's OMB director) tried to shut down both Endowments in the early 1980s, some of the loudest objections came from wealthy Republicans serving on the boards of museums, dance companies, and symphonies all over the country, and the Endowments were spared. Establishment of the NEA in the mid-60s had been genuinely bipartisan, with essential leadership from Republican Jacob Javitts and Democrat Claiborne Pell.



I think people do realize that Republicans of the Rockefeller-Javits persuasion have been and still are – those that are still around, anyway - supporters of public support of the arts. But liberal Republicans of their type have almost vanished. I don't think the Endowments will ever be abolished, but their opponents have learned since Stockman's day that you don't need to get rid of them outright, with the attendant bad publicity.

#19 Helene

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Posted 23 August 2010 - 03:22 PM

As dirac writes, lines are always being drawn in this kind of thing. It is highly unlikely, for instance, that a major arts organization would accept (or at least publicize) a grant from a tobacco company today, though this would have been unexceptional 40 years ago.

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.)

There are industries/businesses that have too much "ick" to be acceptable; the sex trade comes to mind, and I suspect New York arts institutions would reject a production sponsorship from New York Dolls Gentlemenís Club, although not from the owner(s) personally. Yes, there are lines that are drawn -- and possibly drawn more frequently by companies whose founders are calling the shots on their own behalf -- but, who turned down money from Nike, even after there were allegations of sweatshops and child labor exploitation? Free wine from Chateau Ste. Michelle (owned by Phillip Morris' owners)? Free food from restaurants who might pay below minimum wage, and whose kitchen workers might get shafted in tip distribution? A 1.2M grant from the Walmart Foundation (to WGBH), whose parent company is not known for its altruistic labor practices? Big money from Boeing or Microsoft, after each pared thousands from its payroll?

#20 volcanohunter

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Posted 23 August 2010 - 03:24 PM

If they are truly interested in the arts, why do these people make it about themselves?

For one thing, I think it can have beneficial consequences. Human pride being what it is, one-upsmanship can be exploited to positive ends. Zillionaire X donates a lot of money to get his or her name on a PBS program, a concert hall or an art gallery. Zillionaire Y wants to keep up and does the same or one better. If that's what it takes to persuade someone to donate their private collection of masterpieces to a museum where anyone can see them, I don't think it's a bad thing.

#21 dirac

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Posted 23 August 2010 - 04:02 PM

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.




I don't think bart meant that the tobacco companies have gone away entirely. They still give but it's more on the downlow than it used to be and organizations are more chary of being associated with them too openly. Some of that is window dressing, yes, but nevertheless there has been a sea change in how the tobacco companies and their sponsorships are viewed. So all of those protests and complaints weren't all in vain.



Human pride being what it is, one-upsmanship can be exploited to positive ends.




Absolutely true. Social climbing is not an activity generally held in high repute but it's possible for arts organizations to cadge a lot of dough from the climbers looking for a foothold.



#22 Helene

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Posted 23 August 2010 - 04:26 PM

I don't think bart meant that the tobacco companies have gone away entirely. They still give but it's more on the downlow than it used to be and organizations are more chary of being associated with them too openly. Some of that is window dressing, yes, but nevertheless there has been a sea change in how the tobacco companies and their sponsorships are viewed. So all of those protests and complaints weren't all in vain.

Who's turned their money down? Especially since they've rebranded themselves to sound like "altruistic"? The more tobacco is stigmatized and marginalized in mainstream media, the more important it is to find other channels to get the name out there.


Absolutely true. Social climbing is not an activity generally held in high repute but it's possible for arts organizations to cadge a lot of dough from the climbers looking for a foothold.

Cash for social status was good enough for aristocracy with crumbling castles and crumbling fortunes. When the Basses came to NYC, they threw a pile of money at it. Luckily for NYC arts institutions, they've been quite competitive after the divorce, although he found a more direct route through re-marriage.

#23 California

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Posted 23 August 2010 - 04:50 PM

If they are truly interested in the arts, why do these people make it about themselves? Why must they AND these arts organizations stoop to this crass catering to these elitists who buy the arts to assuage their consciences?


As others are pointing out, successful fundraising (whether in the arts, education, or other cultural endeavors) depends heavily on a system of recognition. Some of that is healthy, if it creates peer pressure on others to contribute. (I'm thinking of Warren Buffett's current campaign to get the 40 richest people in the U.S. to promise to donate half their fortune to philanthropy.) Endowed chairs, named scholarships, endowed lecture series, named buildings -- would people have donated that money without the recognition? A few might, but the system works best when it finds ways to acknowledge people's support. It's a system that works for everybody, especially with dramatically declining goverment support (both Federal and state).

There are exceptions. A really HUGE name in the movie industry regularly gives annonymous gifts to the nearby campus of a state university campus here. It's a poorly kept secret on campus, but all public statements insist on annonymity. People who already have plenty of recognition and stature don't need a press release everytime they contribute to a worthy cause, and I wouldn't be surprised if there are others like the one I'm thinking about, but others need a different motivation to give.

#24 dirac

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Posted 23 August 2010 - 05:39 PM

Who's turned their money down? Especially since they've rebranded themselves to sound like "altruistic"? The more tobacco is stigmatized and marginalized in mainstream media, the more important it is to find other channels to get the name out there.


I think I explained my view. We can agree to disagree. :)

#25 kfw

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Posted 23 August 2010 - 07:07 PM

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.

:rofl: What a great observation. Long may it trickle!

#26 SanderO

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 06:19 AM

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?

#27 sunday

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 06:56 AM

:(

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:

#28 E Johnson

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 07:28 AM

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.

#29 richard53dog

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 09:27 AM

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.

#30 Helene

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 09:54 AM


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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