Features Oct 21, 2015 at 4:00 am

As the Billionaire's Flashy New Art Center Prepares to Open, the Rest of the Arts in the Northwest Wait to Hear If He's Abandoned Them for Good

Exterior view of Pivot Art + Culture, inside the new Allen Institute for Brain Science building in Seattle. Courtesy Vulcan Inc.


“Vito's is a renovated old lounge…”
I think you mean “venerated.”
I go to a lot of fundraisers. Lately, those for arts are seeming less important than those for human services. It is hard to get as passionate about "Shakespeare for kids" right after "hospice care for kids" (true story, both in the last month) Perhaps he is having a similar experience?
Meanwhile, Vulcan Films competes with genuine nonprofit filmmakers for government and foundation grants, while producing documentaries that advance Paul Allen's corporate priorities.
There is room for a more interesting and informative analysis here. If the foundation pulled $50k-$75k funding from an array of organizations, and this breaks those organizations, was this responsible philanthropic funding to begin with? If a single grant truly makes or breaks an organization, perhaps it's not the right grant. That said, does the foundation have a duty to provide a ramp where possible when removing longstanding funding? Why do these questions seem to plague the arts community more than other sectors?

As for the focus of the newly-directed funding, the article touches on this being a trend, but doesn't go very far into whether it truly is one beyond Allen.
Well done, Jen!
feels very similar to the education grants the Gates are running, and in the same way, not hearing or being involved with things in a conversational and truly open way, good read Jen!
"Why do these questions seem to plague the arts community more than other sectors?" asks a commenter.

These questions plague our whole system. Why do billionaires who dodge on taxes (http://www.businessinsider.com/apple-mic…) get to tell us what diseases should be cured, what games should be played, what plays should be shown?

Because we LET THEM! They suck up resources while they make themselves wealthy without paying taxes on their wealth and then play King Louis doling dribs and drabs on the things they fancy.

We all need to be artists, play sports and involve ourselves in the arts. If we did that, we would not have to sit on our tuffets and wait for Mr. Big Stuff to fund us.

Oh, and yes, we need to convert our political system to one that is managed by the people it serves. We know better what is needed than billionaires.
When someone starts complaining because a very generous person isn't donating enough in their direction that should be a clear sign that they do not appreciate it and have lost the true meaning of a gift.
Is your net worth around, say, ten grand? Have you ever given a dollar to a charitable cause? Congratulations. You donated a larger percentage of your net worth than Allen or most other billionaire ever has. Obviously their donations, being larger, are much more significant. But still, something to think about.
Your KEXP sticker is really a Vulcan advert, Kids. Sorry.
@12 : I think KEXP and Vulcan parted ways a few years back. Very true that KEXP would not have gotten off the ground without Vulcan bux, but I dont believe that to be the case anymore.
I loathe that soft rock indie nonsense. KCMU was great, but KEXP is really just a big advert for the corporate hegemony around here, even if Vulcan isn't involved anymore.

The EMP is another example of bad taste.
Damn, this is a great GREAT overview of Allen's 'curatorial' works in Seattle. This isn't about the little guy getting shafted, or about how we oughta make an art collective: it's about how culture develops around resources. When you let one guy/one organization's money drive the conversation (the Kreielsheimer Foundation for one of many examples), that paradigm becomes important. When that money goes away (Ford/Detroit), shit happens. And you might want to know what sort of shit is going to happen, and I thank you so very much for doing the work to get more information about what that shit might be (instead of just whining about 'the man').

It would be nice if their museums were as well done as the Getty's (please get a curator that knows how to label a vitrine and preserve an artifact, I am so tired of watching stuff molder and decay) but they certainly are swinging it around as much.

The work that gets paid for is work done. No money - no gallery - no theater - no stage = no art. It's not about bad taste; it's about one taste.
Anyone who works in the nonprofit arts sector would completely agree that PGA can do whatever he chooses philanthropically. It's his money to spend as he wishes. However, by establishing a foundation with a purpose, in part, "To enable artists to make sense of the complexities of our world," provide years of reliable, substantial funding for arts groups, and then pull it without any notice is irresponsible. Especially when they have been invited to do so. Many of these groups counted on annual six figure donations, which are not common or easy to come by, when planning their annual budgets. So, to suddenly have substantial funding pulled without notice is a huge hit to a nonprofit who balance their activities based on projected revenue and donations. When $100,000 in projected donation is suddenly eliminated, it may not "make or break" the nonprofit, but jobs will be lost and programs will be cut, many that are serving those who need it most.
When there is so much inequity in this region, and basic human needs are not being met, its easy to think of the arts as an extra, not necessary. But the arts in this region provide jobs and an economy (stronger than tourism), an opportunity for learning and enrichment, healing and hope, in addition to thought-provoking human experiences. The vibrant arts scene of this region is part of what makes Seattle so great and is helping to recruit talent = driving up south lake union property values = making PGA an even richer man. For him to whimsically set up a new nonprofit that will now compete for area funding is asinine.
Meanwhile, Vulcan Films competes with genuine nonprofit filmmakers for government and foundation grants, while producing documentaries that advance Paul Allen's corporate priorities.
And so what? Ever heard the saying that "the world is your oyster"? Or maybe you just like the whine. Allen - like you - can spend his money as per his desires.
Hi Jen, why isn't there an option to comment on your 11/24/15 post about Pivot closing? Such interesting news I'd love to read reactions and continue the conversation.

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