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Re-posted in it’s entirely from the Los Angeles Times.  Credit’s below:
Liz O. Baylen, Los Angeles Times

Liz O. Baylen, Los Angeles Times

IN TROUBLE: MOCA’s Grand Avenue headquarters is one of three exhibition spaces it operates.
The museum has burned through $20 million in unrestricted funds and borrowed $7.5 million from other accounts. Cash from donors is being sought. A merger has not been ruled out.
By Mike Boehm 
November 19, 2008
Los Angeles’ prestigious but chronically underfunded Museum of Contemporary Art has fallen into crisis. Museum Director Jeremy Strick said MOCA is seeking large cash infusions from donors, and this week he did not rule out the possibility of merging with another institution or sharing its collection of almost 6,000 artworks.

Federal tax returns show that even before the current national crisis, MOCA had been draining its reserves to pay operating expenses. In the meantime, the museum’s staff has grown.

Unlike the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which is partly controlled by the county, MOCA receives minimal government funding. Its annual budget has grown to exceed $20 million, but it relies on donors to pay about 80% of its expenses. When the gifts have fallen short, as they have more often than not during Strick’s nine-year tenure, the museum has gone into its savings.

In recent years, the museum has averaged 250,000 visits annually to view critically acclaimed exhibitions and a collection boasting works by such post-World War II masters as Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg and Mark Rothko.

By one important measure — “unrestricted assets,” money that can be used for any purpose — MOCA is in dire straits. Its federal tax returns show that early in this decade the museum had spent all $20 million of its unrestricted funds to meet routine operating costs. By mid-2007, it had borrowed an additional $7.5 million from “restricted” accounts, even though those are designated by donors for specific uses, such as education or buying art.

In an interview this week, Strick would not disclose more recent financial figures. But he acknowledged that the national economic crisis had further flattened the museum’s cushion. MOCA’s investment portfolio was worth $20.4 million in mid-2007, down from $36.2 million in mid-2000.

Most investment portfolios have lost significant value this fall.

However, the number of museum employees, including part-timers, has risen from about 150 early in this decade to about 200 in recent years. Strick said that was due to increased educational programs and the addition of a curatorial department for architecture and design.

This month, in a bid to shave 10% off operating costs, the museum announced a six-month closure of its Geffen Contemporary exhibition space, which is leased from the city for $1 a year. So far there have been no staff cuts as MOCA continues operating at the main Grand Avenue museum, whose $23-million cost was paid by the developers of the California Plaza in exchange for the right to use the rest of an 11-acre parcel of city redevelopment land.

Strick said MOCA must sharply accelerate its fundraising to ensure its continuing health. The director planned to meet with MOCA’s Board of Trustees this afternoon to discuss a range of options. He said talks were proceeding “with a number of potential partners about a variety of arrangements,” but he insisted that a dissolution or takeover of MOCA by another institution was not an option.

“All the possibilities being explored involve MOCA retaining its identity, continuing its program, expanding its collection,” he said. But he added: “I think it is time for this city to step forward and offer the kind of financial support commensurate with the work being done.”

Eli Broad, L.A.’s preeminent arts patron, said Tuesday that he had had “very preliminary discussions” with MOCA leaders about helping via his Broad Art Foundation. “MOCA is very important to the city,” he said. “I hope they figure out a way to remain independent and continue their important exhibition program, which has brought a lot of respect to Los Angeles.”

Last month Broad, who was also a key figure in launching MOCA as its initial chairman from 1979 to 1984, approached the city of Beverly Hills about his desire to build a new museum and foundation offices there.

Since its inception, MOCA has grown to encompass three exhibition spaces. The “Temporary Contemporary,” later renamed the Geffen Contemporary, opened in 1983 in a warehouse at the edge of Little Tokyo that had been revamped by architect Frank Gehry. Three years later, the museum’s permanent home, designed by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki, opened on Grand Avenue, where it is a mainstay of the planned redesign of the area known as the Grand Avenue project. In 2000, MOCA acquired an exhibition space at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood.

Before the national economic crisis hit, Strick said, MOCA was gearing up gradually for its first major endowment campaign since the mid-1990s, when it raised $25 million. Now, he said, there’s no time for that, and the focus is on “immediate issues and how to move ahead in a very different world.”

An irony of MOCA’s plight is that, thanks to the appetite of wealthy international collectors, the market value of its prime pieces has soared. Corporations and individuals routinely sell sculptures and paintings in an economic pinch, but a museum that did so would be violating its reason for existing, which is keeping art in the public domain. The codes of ethics of both the American Assn. of Museums and the Assn. of Art Museum Directors, although not legally binding, specify that the only acceptable reason for selling artworks from a public collection is to raise money for buying other, presumably more desirable, pieces.

Strick said it’s not unusual for business-minded members of any museum board to ask about selling art to relieve a cash crunch. But the unchanging answer, he said, is that it can’t be done because “our mission is preserving and protecting this collection.”

For Selma Holo, director of USC’s Fisher Museum and the university’s International Museum Institute, troubles like MOCA’s underscore how cultural philanthropy in Los Angeles continues to lag.

Philanthropists in Chicago, San Francisco and Boston have “a clear understanding” that the health of a city’s museums reflects on the state of the city as a whole, Holo said. But “L.A. still has a long way to go” for a similar conviction to take hold among its economic elite. What’s needed is for art collectors to put “the sustainable success of their museums before the ongoing development of their personal collections.”

Is MOCA’s peril a decisive moment for L.A. art philanthropy?

“I don’t know if we can say, ‘Put up or shut up, now or never,’ ” Holo said. “Maybe those were questions that had to be asked before the financial crisis. It’s a hard time to be making the ask.”

Boehm is a Times staff writer.

mike.boehm@latimes.com

Like it was stated above how do you feel about this situation?  What do you think should be done?  Should we help?  In this economic crisis should funding go to the arts?

-Koop

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I am…slowly… reaching the age where my friends have steady jobs in the careers in which they’ve received degrees, and therefore, buying homes. Now, I know that the economy this past year hasn’t been well…stellar, but none-the-less we’re not renting anymore. I have been trying to hint to my friends’ parents that are re-modeling or building or just moving that there are some great new options that will reduce their heating bill (Midwest) and air conditioning bill (far west) but they’re just too old to grasp the idea of change. So, I’m forced to look to MY friends, who, in all honesty, are my best bet in getting this message across.


Green Roofs are the wave of the housing future! Don’t you laugh at me, but a green roof is when you lay grass on your roof. Think about it, when you go to lay on your lawn on a hot summer day, it’s always cool, right? RIGHT. And it has a thick layer of insulation- dirt, right? RIGHT. So why is it so far fetched to put grass on your roof at home? IT’S NOT. Here are the reasons why :

**Pink Panther insulation wasn’t around for the Vikings of Newfoundland, so they used Grass to keep in the the kind of air they wanted, depending on the season.


**If you have a way to get up to the roof, it can be another garden! Grow veggies on your roof and you don’t have to run to the grocery store for that Onion he forgot to buy on the way home from work.

**In areas of the world where it rains a lot, it is your natural gutter. It absorbs the water and therefore you don’t have run-off.


**You’re giving back to the environment! Mother Earth gives you so much, how long has it been since you’ve given her a mothers day gift? you’re doing good by filtering pollutants and CO2 out of the air.





Besides from all of the above, it’s actually really cool aesthetically speaking. I was recently on vacation in Door County Wisconsin. There is a Swedish restaurant nearby in Sister Bay and it has a green roof, it even has goats grazing on it! You don’t have to do that, but it’s cool, huh?


These roofs can be colorful too. You don’t dye them with food or hair coloring, you plant flowers! If you intersperse different kinds that bloom at different times of the year, I guarantee your house will be the house that all the neighbors envy.

Photos:

  1. School of Art, Design and Media at Nanyang Technological University; Singapore
  2. The great city of Chicago
  3. Hundertwasser’s Waldspirale, Austria
  4. The city of Baltimore
  5. Al Johnson’s Restaurant, Sister Bay, Wisconsin
  6. My new city- Minneapolis

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