Musing on the power of donor dollars | Rock Candy

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Musing on the power of donor dollars

Posted By on Wed, Dec 7, 2011 at 11:26 AM

A story yesterday in the New York Times about Miami Art Museum board members resigning over a decision to rename the museum for a man who is giving it $35 million reminded me of an article I wrote in the Times' first issue dedicated to philanthropy in 1998. (The 14th annual issue on philanthropy came out today; the historic gift of $1.2 billion given Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is highlighted.)

In the 1990s, when the Arkansas Arts Center was raising money to build the new entrance and galleries, an out-of-state prospect promised to give $1 million if the Arts Center would rename itself for the donor. That irritated the late financier Jack Stephens, he told the Times, so he gave the Arts Center $5 million — no strings attached. He thought the Arts Center should be named for its home, not a donor who wanted to see his or her name on a building.

At least one writer has complimented Alice Walton for leaving her name off her museum, which gives it a little breathing room for the people who patronize it to take ownership, but the Walton name appears on many other institutions the family has endowed.

The new Miami Art Museum, under construction, will be known as the Jorge M. Perez Art Museum of Miami-Dade County. The board members who've quit and others in the community are particularly peeved that a donor could "buy" a museum that is being built on public land and largely financed by taxpayers.

What would happen today if someone came to the Arkansas Arts Center, which is operating on a shoestring so tight it can't afford curators, with a gift of $35 million? That board probably would take the money and give it any name the donor wished.

Tags: , , , , ,

Sign up for the Daily Update email


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Leslie Newell Peacock

  • UAMS restarts cardiac surgery program

    The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, which had to suspend its cardiac surgical care in May when its heart surgeon, Dr. Gareth Tobler, retired before a new hire had been made, has resumed its program.
    • Jul 13, 2018
  • A new design for 30 Crossing: No, not narrower.

    The Arkansas Department of Transportation has made a few changes to the 30 Crossing project that will widen the seven-mile Interstate 30 corridor through North Little Rock and Little Rock, the most significant for downtown Little Rock being the creation of a four-lane Second Street from Mahlon Martin Drive east of I-30 to Cumberland Street west of I-30. The new street would serve as relief from traffic to and from the interstate, to be concentrated at Fourth Street.
    • Jul 12, 2018
  • Arts Center director off to North Carolina

    Todd Herman, the executive director of the Arkansas Arts Center, is leaving the institution for a job at The Mint Museum in Charlotte, N.C.
    • Jul 12, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Coming Monday: Little Rock Black Restaurant Week

    MoTown Monday is Ceci's Chicken and Waffles. Tasty Tuesday is Sims BBQ and Brewster's Soul Food Cafe. Wing Wednesday is Chicken King and Chicken Wangs. Soul Food Thursday is Lindsey's BBQ and Hospitality House and Food Truck Festival Friday is @station801. It's the first Black Restaurant Week.
    • Mar 8, 2017
  • New music from Isaac Alexander

    New music from Isaac Alexander.
    • Jul 14, 2017
  • No Small Talk Ep. 8: Katy Henriksen, Springs Arts preview

    A packed episode this week of "No Small Talk": a chat with Katy Henriksen, from Of Note on KUAF; Stephanie Smittle breaks down the Spring Arts issue; and we finish up with just a tiny bit of Oscar chatter.
    • Mar 9, 2018

Most Recent Comments


© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation