I have been remiss in not mentioning this before now, but the Wallace Foundation is giving Seattle arts orgs a whole lot of money.
In visual art the funds are going to Seattle Art Museum.
SAM will receive $750,000 over four years to broaden and deepen participation by young adults (ages 18 to 35) in the museum. SAM will study how it can best serve young adults through research, data analysis and evaluation. Consistent, entertaining “gateway” experiences combined with engaging programs will provide opportunities for young adults to become more involved with the museum. To reach the young adult audience, SAM will build partnerships with a diverse array of organizations and explore communications strategies, including targeted emails and social networking.
Other recipients are On the Boards (for developing OtBTV, which sounds cool), SIFF Cinema, One Reel, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Seattle Opera, and EMP/SciFiMuHaFa.
I guess I have three responses.
1. Great! Yay! Thanks! Super!
2. Memo to SAM: BEGIN AND END ON THE WEB, and don't forget publicity, either. SAM's web site is insanely, insanely bad. The museum is also insanely, insanely bad about getting the word out about anything it does. These problems can be solved at the same time. Also, the museum is constantly changing what's on the walls but it's impossible to know what's come down and what's gone up by checking the web. THIS MUST CHANGE. Yesterday, for instance, I came across a great Conrad Marca-Relli in the ab-ex gallery where the Robert Motherwell used to be. I found a surprise Koons—a great big St. John the Baptist that I didn't even know SAM had—in the contemporary gallery, along with newly acquired works by Aaron Curry, Cris Brodahl, Joseph Cornell, and John Stezaker. Imagine if there were a tool where images could be projected live from places all over the world reaching people all over the world! IT HAS BEEN INVENTED. Seattle Art Museum, PLEASE USE THE WEB. You now have the funds.
3. I realize that the Wallace Foundation is not an impresario. But this is a lot of money we're talking about, and interpreted strictly, all of this money could go into the hands of arts administrators and not a cent into the hands of artists. There's no talk of new commissions at the museum, at the opera, at the cinema, or at the ballet. There's talk of "develop[ing] and market[ing] eight new three-play Social Subscription pilot programs" (to the tune of $750,000 at the Rep); of "technology infrastructure to increase accessibility to opera" ($750,000); of "develop[ing] a community outreach campaign" ($750,000 at SIFF Cinema); of "expand[ing] and enhanc[ing] youth-driven programming" ($585,000 at EMP/SciFiMuHaFa). That's all good stuff, but will these organizations really make it matter?