Archive for the ‘Museums’ Category

Service of Who’s the Boss II? Social Security, A Bank & A Museum

Monday, July 1st, 2019

Photo: db4beginners.com

The answer to “who’s the boss?” often muttered as a rhetorical question, isn’t always negative, though in two of the three following examples it is. Sometimes a decision-maker deserves praise and other times, he/she doesn’t seem to be watching the ball. In either case, you really may want to know.

I’ll start with a happy surprise.

Feeling Secure

Photo: en.wikipedia.org

I’ve recently needed to make countless calls to ask for documents and information. I lucked into Mr. Gopaul who picked up the phone at the West 48th Street NYC Social Security office. He didn’t pass me on to someone else as seems to happen increasingly these days, but quickly answered my questions, some relating to recent correspondence. I asked for his name so I could write a letter to recognize his exemplary service. His voice, at first impatient so as to get on to the next call, softened and he ended our conversation saying, “bless you.”

Who’s the boss? I took to Google.  My letter to the regional Social Security director went out that day.

One + Zero=Five

Photo: credit.com

In the private sector, I had a different experience. A bank handling my husband’s pension—Bank A–needed to take back a direct deposit payment I wasn’t entitled to.  My retail bank—Bank B–said it happens all the time and would handle the request from Bank A.

But Bank A didn’t take that one simple step. Instead, it sent me three documents, each one with different information and dollar amounts about upcoming payments. Two customer service people couldn’t figure it out any more than I could. To pay itself back Bank A has instead given itself five steps–that many more times to mess up—instead of one. I’m neither a banker nor a numbers person but this doesn’t compute. Who’s the boss?

Water, Water Everywhere….

I received a sell piece from a major museum for a five day trip to the Berkshires accompanied by the institution’s curator of American paintings and sculpture. I know this area well and have been to most if not all of its museums—there aren’t many–but was tempted by an excursion not too far from NYC with a knowledgeable curator. The fee got my attention–$5,999 per person double rate or almost $12,000 for two—but the charge is not why I ask “who’s the boss?” The “Rate Includes” section on the sell piece was the reason. You get “bottled water and coffee/tea with all meals.” For $12,000, I wouldn’t call this out any more than I would put on a dress’s price tag “$175 includes thread and zipper.” The program director should have deleted this and created some toothsome or valuable perks for the sell piece. [I also noted that not included are “meals not specified.” Let’s hope participants get all meals.]

Do you sometimes wonder who’s in charge and if the person is focusing on the work? Do you take time to find out who’s the boss to credit people who have done a superlative job as well as to gripe about those who don’t?

Photo: twitter.com

Service of Sights, Some Better than Others

Thursday, October 18th, 2018

Alistair Steinberg at Museum of Illusions

I’ve always enjoyed historic house tours. How good they are depends partly on the docent but the experience is rewarding regardless for the peek at how people lived in the day, the art they collected or the décor, gardens and architecture they chose.

The other morning, on WOR 710 AM, Len Berman and co-host Michael Riedel mentioned a tour of Madison Square Garden that they thought was a waste of time and money. What’s the point, they said, of visiting an empty arena and seeing a virtual Billy Joel concert for $30+ a ticket? The Expedia description notes, in part: “This exciting 75 minute guided tour celebrates over 130 years of Garden history and gives exclusive access inside this legendary venue.”

Austen and Alistair Steinberg @ Museum of Illusions

Nancie Steinberg recently posted great photos on Facebook taken at the Museum of Illusions in NYC. They made me want to visit. Be sure to bring someone with you to take best advantage of the photo ops–her sons are in photos above and at right and her husband also enjoyed the illusions.

Laura Feasey recently covered some curious museums in “Mood Upswing,” in The Wall Street Journal. Like the Museum of Illusions, they also offer countless opportunities to take fun photos and post them on social media. In fact, that was the approach of her article–they were super Instagram-able. She reported that the cost of each is around $35.

If you’re in LA, you might want to wait in line at the Broad Museum to see Yayoi Kusama’s installation that “features LED lights reflected endlessly in a mirror-lined room.”

In NYC at the Color Factory you’ll see “a dive-in pit filled with 500,000 pastel blue balls. Other top draws: the conveyor belt of pick-your-own macarons and, less delectably, a collection of fake vomit.” Feasley chose to add The Museum of Ice Cream in San Francisco for its photogenic pool of sprinkles and giant gummy bear.

Color Factory. Photo: designboom.com

You have only a month to visit The Museum of Pizza at the William Vale hotel in Brooklyn, NY. with its “ ‘cheese cave,’ made of silicone, a ‘pizza beach,’ and a space for ‘pizza meditation.’” The exhibit closes November 18. Opening in LA in December is 29Rooms, a frequent pop-up sight that in the past included “a human snow globe and walk-in womb meant to simulate the in-utero experience.” It arrives in L.A. in December.

Launching museums designed to inspire selfie opportunities where visitors promote it on social media is 2018 marketing-smart. But don’t all the signature sights around the world from the Eiffel Tower to the Empire State Building serve the same purpose? Except for the inspiration what’s the difference? Have you visited some memorable sights—terrific or disappointing? Can any collection of things become a legitimate museum? Have you noticed that traditional museums increasingly offer unorthodox exhibitions that resemble those in Feasey’s aticle?

Museum of Ice Cream

Service of Both Sides of a Coin: To Sell Art or Not–the Berkshire Museum’s

Monday, February 5th, 2018

Photo: dailykos.com

When Detroit was having its financial crisis four years ago, I shared the opinion of an economics professor who felt the Detroit Institute of Arts should sell its work by big name artists to the mega-rich and instead, opt to own the pictures of emerging talent. The new owners could lend their Picassos, Rembrandts, Gauguins and Bruegels to museums as needed and the museum would have such a huge endowment that the interest alone would pay to run the place.

Money is part of the reason the Berkshire Museum wants to sell some 40 paintings. The other is a change of focus. The sale has landed it in a legal tangle.

Photo: artnews.com

An article in ArtfixDaily, “Massachusetts AG Seeks to Extend Berkshire Museum Injunction,” reported that the “Berkshire Museum, in Pittsfield, Mass., announced in July 2017 that it would sell 40 artworks from its collections to generate about $50 million, to help fund a New Vision plan to refocus the museum on science and history, and build an endowment.”

It continued, “A November auction of the museum’s art at Sotheby’s was stopped pending legal wrangles and opposition from Rockwell’s family and others.

“‘We are hopeful that a brief extension will allow us to fully analyze the information we have received in our investigation in the hope of finding a way forward to secure the future of the Museum, and ensure it is able to thrive in the years to come,’ said Emily Snyder, a spokeswoman for Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.”

Photo: artnews.com

Back in November, Larry Parness, the Berkshire Eagle, quoted museum directors who warned that without the proceeds of a sale, the 115 year old museum, founded by Zenas Crane, “could close within eight years” because of a yearly deficit of some $1million. “After working with a consultant, museum trustees decided to sell works from their collection and apply the proceeds to a capital project and to expand its endowment to roughly $40 million.

“The case has drawn national attention and is considered precedent-setting because it may be the largest such deaccession to date in the museum world in which proceeds would be applied in large part to operational expenses.”

The opposition, some 2,000 members of Save the Art-Save the Museum, on two Facebook pages according to Parness, raised money to pay for legal help to fight the sale and garnered 1,700 online signatures.

The museum has apparently softened its message about change-in-direction and added the word ART in a reaction to the stay by the AG. According to Adam Frenier on nepr.net “‘The museum accepts the attorney general’s request for a brief postponement, but remains eager to see these issues resolved to secure the future of the Berkshire Museum for all it provides its visitors, young and old, in art, history, and science,’ a museum spokeswoman said Monday.”

Do you think the museum directors should have kept separate any discussion of change in direction and first focused on the financial aspects of selling the art to help the museum survive or doesn’t that matter? Should the directors seek other ways of generating income before selling their legacy?

Berkshire Museum Photo: news10.com

Service of No Room for Sentimentality in Business: The Plaza and Eloise

Tuesday, September 5th, 2017

The Plaza Hotel is for sale again. It’s natural for things to change yet it still makes me sad to see what’s happened to this landmark which launched a trend to transform legendary NYC hotels into condos. The Chinese owner of the Waldorf Astoria has followed suit: Condo owners, not hotel guests, are the focus of both former hotels.

In an article, “The legendary Plaza Hotel is, once again, up for sale,” on curbed.com, Amy Plitt wrote what she called the short version of the hotel’s ownership history: “Let’s revisit how the hotel got here: It’s had many owners over the years, including the Hilton clan and current president Donald Trump; El-Ad purchased it in 2004, and led the conversion of more than 100 of its hotel rooms into luxury condos. In 2012, Sahara Group purchased a majority stake in the company, valuing it at about $575 million. But things spun out of control quickly for the firm and its president, Subrata Roy; after defaulting on loans, Roy was imprisoned in India, and Sahara was said to be shopping the hotel around to help get him out of jail. (WSJ says he’s been out on parole since 2016.)”

Photo: theplazany.com

A memorable childhood birthday–tea in the Plaza’s Palm Court–and subsequent visits there in its heyday were always a treat for me as were weddings and posh business and personal events in the ballroom.

Fondness for the hotel and for its most famous fictional guest, Eloise, was why I visited–and enjoyed–the “Eloise at the Museum” exhibition at the New York Historical Society [open through October 9, 2017]. It was a charming celebration of the character, books about her as well as author Kay Thompson and illustrator, Hilary Knight.

Ms. Thompson was a piece of work and would have fit well in the self-centered, cutthroat business atmosphere in which some find themselves today. According to Wikipedia, “in 1964 Thompson was burned out on Eloise; she blocked publication and took all but the first book out of print.”

Wikipedia coverage about illustrator Knight—who at 90 writes, draws and lives in Manhattan–shed additional light: “The live CBS television adaptation on Playhouse 90 (1956) with Evelyn Rudie as Eloise received such negative reviews that Kay Thompson vowed never to allow another film or TV adaptation.” She didn’t care about the financial impact on Knight that closing down the book publishing element had. In addition to lost royalties for the Eloise books–he also illustrated Eloise in Paris, at Christmastime and in Moscow–while Thompson was alive he also didn’t see a cent for the illustrations he had created for “Eloise Takes a Bawth,” which was scheduled for publication in 1964. It saw the light of day 38 years later.

Do you have memories of The Plaza Hotel? Did you read the “Eloise” books as a child and/or to children? Is the Eloise appeal to NY children only? Why do some books capture generations of children’s attention–is it the story, the illustrations or a magical combination?

Service of Discoveries

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

DiscoverySharing a few things I’ve learned or noticed within the last week.

Shoe Shine

The Hudson Yards subway station on the number 7 extension over by the Javits Center is buried deep underground so to reach the street you take Subway escalator Hudson Yardstwo very steep escalators. On either side of the moving stairs are one-inch brushes. If I had on leather shoes–even better with shoe polish handy–I could shine them simply by sidling to the left and then right of the step. I wouldn’t try it on the way down–it’s too steep. No doubt the brushes are on all the subway escalators…but they are not new and clean nor is the ride as long as at Hudson Yards.

If You Have to Ask You Can’t Afford It

I received a request to become a member of an internationally recognized NYC museum on an expensive, color 20″ x 6″ card folded in half. Nowhere were membership rates listed. “Is this the latest trend in fundraising?” I thought as I tossed the card, “or a mistake?” Or perhaps they don’t want members who care about cost.

Oh?

GraduationI graduated from the College of Liberal Arts [CLA] of an east coast University and discovered, when filling out a personal information update, that CLA no longer exists.  It’s called the College of Arts & Sciences these days. I mentioned this to a savvy friend and fellow graduate who keeps up on all things and she wasn’t aware of the change. Suggested to the alumni office that they make clear, when asking “which college did you attend?” that they add “formerly CLA” opposite the arts and sciences reference.

Have you made any surprising discoveries lately?

please join us

Service of Comfort Food and Atypical Museums

Monday, August 1st, 2016

ice cream

I love both a great idea and ice cream so when I read about the two in Charles Passy’s Wall Street Journal article, “Ice Cream Craze Soothes a Steaming City–Purveyors and entrepreneurs say the demand now churns year-round,” I had to share.

He mentioned Maryellis Bunn’s The Museum of Ice Cream. It’s such a hit that the pop-up–July 29 to August 31–has long been sold out. It’s in New York’s trendy meatpacking district, a stone’s throw from the High Line and Whitney Museum.

According to its website, the museum is “curated by a collective of ice cream obsessed designers, artists, and friends.” It boasts interactive highlights such as “a swimmable rainbow ‘sprinkle’ pool, edible balloons, an immersive chocolate room and a collaborative massive ice cream sundae.” There will be tastings of futuristic ice cream created by Dr. Irwin Adam, Future Food Studio founder. I checked out his Facebook page. The Toronto-based consultant is working on two pasta sauces: mealworm and cricket Bolognese.

GelatoPassy also wrote about some of the popular ice cream taste sensations in and around the city this summer: “black-colored coconut ice cream that takes its distinctive hue from coconut ash” at Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream. In addition there’s “10Below, which focuses on the Thai-style rolls made using a flash-freeze technique—hence, the company’s name. The ice cream is prepared by pouring the mix on a super-chilled plate, then rolling the finished product, like it was dough.” Popular as well are “gargantuan and creatively conceived milkshakes, priced as high as $15. They go by names such as Sweet N’ Salty and Sour Power” at Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer.

ProfiterolesHaving mentally gorged on some of my favorites–peppermint stick, caramel and coffee ice cream–I followed the museum idea and took a gander at the 26 “strangest museums” featured on www.travelandleisure.com. Some include the International Banana Museum; Museum of Pez Memorabilia; Devil’s Rope Barbed Wire Museum; National Museum of Funeral History and the SPAM Museum that on its website calls itself M.O.M.A. for the Museum of Meat-Themed Awesomeness.

If you go to The Museum of Ice Cream, please share your review. What’s your favorite flavor and brand—or ice cream memory? Do you eat ice cream year around? Have you been to any memorable offbeat museums here or abroad or is there one you would like to visit or create?

10Below Thai-style ice cream rolls

10Below Thai-style ice cream rolls

 

Service of Museums & How They Attract Audiences

Monday, November 16th, 2015

Agave Pod Vase by Christine & Michael Adcock

Agave Pod Vase by Christine & Michael Adcock

 

Ellen Gamerman shared a glimpse of “The Museum of the Future” in a Wall Street Journal article reporting how technology is one of the ways these institutions plan to revolutionize and transform a visitors’ experience. A goal: Attracting audiences.

For starters she told how Metropolitan Museum visitors saw a Jackson Pollock picture through 3-D headsets; mentioned a “virtual-reality film that recreates ocean creatures from 500 million years ago,” at the London Natural History Museum; wrote about movies with “special effects in a 4D theater with piped-in gunpowder smells and seats that jiggle whenever cannons are fired,” at the imminent American Revolution Museum, Yorktown, Va. and more. Lots to look forward to.

Seascape necklace by Beth Farber

Seascape necklace by Beth Farber

There are also valuable, effective traditional ways museums introduce potential enthusiasts to their exhibitions. For the third year Brooklyn Museum is the venue for the American Fine Craft Show November 21-22 where 90 exhibitors, handpicked by my clients Joanna and Richard Rothbard, will exhibit and sell some of the best crafts designed and made in America. Tickets to the craft show include general admission to the museum, including “Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861-2008,” an exhibition that opens on the eve of the show.

Selecting to feature the work of only a few exhibitors from the riches of images I have is always difficult but what fun: Almost as good as shopping.

JEWELRY

Mediterranean Decay Coral Necklace by Barbara Heinrich

Mediterranean Decay Coral Necklace by Barbara Heinrich

Whether gemstones, coral or polymer, jewel tones from nature will punctuate the display cases of many of the 19 jewelry designers.

Barbara Heinrich transformed perforated red-orange coral from the bottom of the ocean into necklace beads [photo above, left]. The Pittsford-NY jeweler added an 18kt gold egg-shaped bead that mimics the coral’s perforations and a toggle clasp.

Another necklace informed by the deep, but in brilliant turquoise, is Beth Farber’s “Seascape,” hand-woven with apatite, a boulder opal and gold [Photo above, right]. Farber, whose studio is in Minnetonka, Minn., says her work combines the ancient with the contemporary. Adapting ancient bead weaving techniques, she hand-weaves fine gemstones, silver and gold with a contemporary sensibility and edge.

FASHION

Bern and Trusk vests by Teresa Maria Widuchn

Bern and Trusk vests by Teresa Maria Widuchn

Fashion takes pride of place where 25 of 90 handpicked artisans will exhibit handmade coats, jackets, dresses and accessories in the museum’s regal Beaux-Arts Court. Standouts reflect Asian influences in style, fabric and/or construction as well as elegant design simplicity.

Spare simplicity in form and motif translates to classic elegance that Teresa Maria Widuch understates on her website as “an efficient use of materials with a clean line,” [Photo of Bern and Trusk vests, right]. In her Chicago studio she creates one-of-a-kind wool felt and Ultrasuede jackets, vests and coats at her Chicago studio. Jane Herzenberg, Northhampton, Mass., explores the relationship between painting, Shibori dyeing, Rozome and hand embellishment to create art to wear. [Photo right, below].

Barcelona jacket by Jane Herzenberg

Barcelona jacket by Jane Herzenberg

Both Shibori and Rozome [batik] are Japanese techniques.

DECORATIVE/FUNCTIONAL WORK

Glass, ceramics, wood, leather and wool are transformed to one-of-a-kind decorative and/or functional pieces by artisans who describe their work as “improvised” and “intuitive.”

Ceramist Pat Warwick “has never been far from the sea.” [Today she lives by the sea in Warren, RI]. She wrote on her website that the drawings she made to illustrate and design materials for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute’s Marine Resource center “became the basis for her first installation- a school of fish for her own kitchen.”

Christine and Michael Adcock, Leaves of Grass Fiber-Clay Arts, Santa Barbara, Calif., are collaborative mixed media artists. [An example of their work is at top.] Christine is a basket maker and Michael a studio potter. Christine Adcock said that nature is the ultimate teacher and inspiration. “I delight in its every detail, from the beautiful markings on a tiny bug or moth to the majesty of mountain and meadow. My work is an effort to take tiny, beautiful, elements of nature – a seed pod we tread upon or a leaf of grass – and put them in a context where people take time to experience and enjoy their perfection.”  

Haven’t museums always felt they needed to entice people to visit? Is this an American habit because the public is used to being marketed to? Are there lines a museum should take care not to cross in “merchandising” collections even if tempted by technology?

 

 

Pat Warwick ceramic wall piece

Pat Warwick ceramic wall piece

 

 

Service of Ears to the Ground: Boards that Listen

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

ear to the ground

Last September I wrote a post “Service of Bigger is Better,” about institutions feeling pressure to grow bigger no matter what or how, a kneejerk impulse I disagree with.

Little Red Schoolhouse Photo: Thomas Schoeller, New Preston, CT

Little Red Schoolhouse Photo: Thomas Schoeller, New Preston, CT

At the time the school I attended from first through 12th grades was seriously exploring a move to a larger building. Responding to uproar from alumnae the board of trustees subsequently scotched that move. Good for them! My guess: trustees feared a deafening sound–the click of closing purses–although there were countless other sensible reasons to stay put.

In that fall post I also mentioned the Frick’s plans to expand which are again derailed. Granted the reason for the turnaround was to save the garden, not a protest over expanding simply for expansion’s sake. It  certainly counts as an example of directors listening.

Sarah Cascone shared details in artnet.com in “New York Times Reports Frick Museum Board Backs Down Over Plan to Destroy Garden.” She quoted an anonymous museum official: “There was just a number of voices out there, and we heard them.”

This is the fourth overturned Frick expansion since 2001. Cascone referred to all the other fat cat museums–Whitney, MoMA and The Metropolitan Museum of Art–and their dramatically increased exhibition space that must sorely tempt the Frick to follow suit.

Frick garden. Photo: Timesunion.com

Frick garden. Photo: Timesunion.com

Cascone wrote that her publication “was among the first to advocate for the preservation of the garden as an important green space and visual respite in the neighborhood” followed by the president of the Cultural Landscape Foundation, Charles Birnbaum, who let it be known that the garden was the only example in NYC of landscape architect Russell Page’s work. Bringing up a 38 year old press release, Birnbaum parried Frick Museum director Ian Wardropper who called the garden a “temporary placeholder for an addition.” The release described the “garden as a permanent addition to the institution’s grounds.”

The list of voices against destroying the garden grew louder, from a former Frick Museum director to a “Unite to Save the Frick” initiative involving high profile protestors such as architects Robert A.M. Stern and Maya Lin as well as former directors of the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Quoting Wardropper, Casone wrote: “Preserving the unique residential character and intimate scale of the Frick will remain our top priority.” And that’s my point.

Have you seen happy endings like these? Do you think the Frick trustees will try for a fifth expansion? If an institution can’t grow physically, what does an art museum director or president do to make his/her mark? Is growth and change necessary to keep an institution alive?

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Pinterest

Service of Art Theft Recovery

Monday, June 8th, 2015

Isabella G missing art

The empty frames which bordered some of the stolen artworks previously exhibited at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston [photo above], where the pictures used to be,  give a memorable, haunting sensation of loss. They’ve been missing for 25 years. Check out the website and you’ll see posted a $100,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of a finial of a Napoleonic eagle that was also lost in the 1990 burglary.

Speaking of burgled art, Mark Fishsteinm, with K2 Intelligence LLC, said: “You can never give up hope because if they are stolen, some people hold them for a predetermined amount of time and then think it’s safe to sell.” The retired New York City Police Department’s art crime division specialist told this to Wall Street Journal reporter Jennifer Smith for her story, “Picasso Recovery in Newark Shines Light on Art Theft.”

La Coiffeuse by PicassoWhile the article focused on the fascinating business of art recovery, clearly the type of work only for the patient, the discovery in NJ didn’t share any how-to clues. Smith wrote about the theft of a cubist Picasso picture [photo at right], “La Coiffeuse,” [1911], from a storeroom in the Centre Pompidou in Paris that was reported in 2001. It was found in February in Newark, N.J. in a package sent from Belgium marked “Art Craft Toy,” with a value of $37. According to her, “It isn’t clear how customs officials at Newark, among the busier ports in the U.S., unearthed a stolen artwork the size of a place mat. A spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations declined to comment, citing a continuing investigation.”

Smith observed that in general law enforcement—police, FBI and Interpol–doesn’t work alone. Agencies collaborate with insurance companies and a few businesses such as Art Loss Register and Art Recovery Group [both in London]. The former lists stolen antiques as well as art in its database and is adding reports of forged/fake items to its service. The company boasted that last year it had 400,000 paid searches and found some 150 pieces.

Thomas Crown AffairIt doesn’t help the cause in this country that there is no central reference list for the law-enforcement agencies to track art crimes even though they represent a chunk of change. Smith wrote that the FBI can no longer verify a previous estimate of $billions lost from art and cultural crimes. She didn’t explain why but my guess would be that prices are so crazy these days that nobody can keep track or count that high.

What inspires people to pay the prices they do for high profile art when they are simply making targets of themselves? If it can’t be sold, what’s the point of stealing art? Why do you think there isn’t a single registry here for all legitimate interested parties to access?

To Catch a Thief

Service of Arts Attendance

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

standing ovation

Alexander Forbes wrote “Why Falling Arts Attendance Has Major Implications for the US Economy,” in artnet.com. He based his arguments on the result of National Endowment for the Arts {NEA} studies.

Attendance at musical performances—jazz, classical, opera, musical theatre—as well as plays, ballet, art museums and galleries, all of which he called “benchmark activities,” have declined between 1992, where 41 percent of US adults attended at least one, and 20 years later, in 2012. That year, 21 percent visited a gallery or art museum and 33 percent went to any benchmark activity.

audience in the park 2Of those who attended an event, 73 percent “said their main reason for doing so was to socialize with friends or family, while 22 percent who wanted to participate in an arts activity but didn’t, say it was because they didn’t have someone to join them,” wrote Forbes.

So who is attending, according to the NEA? “Despite similar household incomes and education, people who call themselves middle-class were more likely to attend the arts than those who identified themselves as working class.” Forbes noted the obvious fact that people who define themselves as working class may be working on weekends and evenings when events take place and museums and galleries are open.

kids at concertHe reported that the misunderstanding by some that arts are “for elites by elites,” is worse than before. “Anti-arts rhetoric has become particularly malignant in the years since the economic collapse with many populist-leaning politicians worldwide attacking the arts as unnecessary luxuries that one percent-ers like to enjoy and make the rest of us pay for.”

So what do the arts contribute to US GDP? Forbes wrote $698 billion in 2012 or 4.32 percent of GDP. Note: He clarified that the figure included film, television and advertising industries along with the usual suspects.

Yet he didn’t point out essential information: What percentage of the $698 billion do TV and advertising represent? [I’m giving film the benefit of the doubt and determining that people attend movie theatres though clearly Netflix sales count in this number.] He compared the total to the construction industry with “only” a $586 billion contribution to GDP and transportation and warehousing–$464 billion.

museum visitorsForbes highlighted the trade surplus generated by the arts–$25 billion—which, given that we don’t export a great deal these days since we stopped manufacturing much, is significant. He also reported that “for every 100 new jobs created in the arts, 62 new jobs are created, on average, in other industries.” And: “For every dollar of increased spending on artworks, $1.98 of total economic output is created. In the case of museums, every new dollar of demand creates $1.76 of gains.”

Do you think that the impact on this country’s economy of fewer people attending “benchmark arts activities” will be as damaging as Forbes suggests should the downward slide continue? Do you attend such events to socialize? If nobody is free to go with you, do you stay home? Are there other potentially dire consequences of this downward trend?

dancers on stage

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