Friday, January 28, 2005

Brought to You by....

The Whitney is expanding! This move puts it in line with all of the other major galleries' expansions, although, The Whitney plan is modest:
The expansion would be small compared to that of other museums. New York's Museum of Modern Art, for example, increased its gallery space by 40,000 square feet. The Whitney would add only about 8,000 square feet, but it would provide the museum new gallery space, a new auditorium, a dedicated restaurant space, and a new library and research facility.

The story comes on the heels of the Tate Modern's announcement as well as the recent additions and upgrades from major galleries such as the Art Gallery of Ontario,the SFMoMA and the iMOCA:
As you probably already know, the Indianapolis Museum of Art is closing Sunday to complete the final stages of its $74-million expansion project. But it will reopen in May with a three-day celebration of the new facilities -- which include a new three-story museum pavilion with a restaurant and cafe run by Wolfgang Puck, a special-events pavilion and a glass-enclosed entry pavilion, as well as an underground parking garage and newly landscaped grounds. Expect a full-scale promotional campaign for the May reopening, aimed at broadening the public reach of what's being billed as "the new IMA." (S.L. Berry, indystar.com)

So, where are we headed with this seemingly growing art appreciation? Are governing bodies becoming more aware of the social benefits of a vital art community?

Nah. Enter the blockbuster.

In 1998, the PBS offered a forum asking these questions:
Is corporate sponsorship and the arts a problematic partnership? Can corporate sponsorship affect the content of an exhibit? Will corporate sponsorship produce a wealth of "blockbuster" exhibits and leave smaller, experimental works out in the cold?
A major producer of the blockbuster phenomenon is Clear Channel:
As Clear Channel chairman and CEO Brian Becker said back in a December 2001 news release: "The acquisition of BBH Exhibits represents our commitment to capturing a substantial share of the family entertainment market, including exhibitions, large-scale events and other family-oriented, education-based experiences."

Its Web pages echo and expand on this statement, trumpeting Clear Channel Exhibitions as "the world leader in providing blockbuster educational and entertaining family traveling exhibits, and a developer of large-scale, educational touring mega-events." (Robert L. Pincus San Diego Union-Tribune)
With the recent corporatization of the Canada Council, witnessed in their latest proposals for the dispersal of government funding to artists and arts organizations, we can see the corporate model at work in all levels of the arts. Artists, under the new proposal, must have their projects sponsored by recognized art show production companies (galleries) in order to receive funding. (I'd love to provide a link to this info from CC's site, but, unfortunately, those pages seem to have been removed. Here's one from Fuse.)

Then again, maybe I'm just experiencing sour grapes. The tiered funding scheme that the CC is heralding, with the top tier receiving the wheat and the lower (read, me) receiving the chaff has certainly left a bad taste in my mouth.

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