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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

MASS MoCA Announces Major Fundraiser

12:59PM / Sunday, April 15, 2007

North Adams - Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) Foundation Board Chairman Allan Fulkerson and Director Joseph C. Thompson announced a major fund-raising effort on April 11– called the Permanence Campaign – slated to raise $37 million for endowment, program support, and facility renovations.

During the quiet phase of the campaign almost $25 million – more than two-thirds of the overall goal – has been raised to date in pledges and gifts, including interim program support since 2003.

Transformation

“This campaign signals a moment of transformation for MASS MoCA,” said Joseph Thompson, MASS MoCA’s Director. “This milestone effort will add capacity, substance and stability to an institution which has won a national reputation for inventive programming, but which, up to now, has achieved that on the thinnest of financial margins. Even when we are successful in this campaign, MASS MoCA will still face lean budgets, and by every standard we will have to operate in the most agile of ways: however, the Permanence Campaign provides a sturdy financial footing which will ensure a new level of institutional strength and stability.”

“We are moving from youth to adulthood,” said Duncan Brown, MASS MoCA trustee and chairman of MASS MoCA’s development effort. “Up to now, the institution has been operated on a quarter-by-quarter -- and at times even a day-to-day – basis. With the Permanence Campaign we are moving to a new level with our sights set on the long-term sustainability of the museum.”

Lead gifts and pledges totaling more than $8 million (including several six- and seven-figure gifts) have already come from the W.L.S. Spencer Foundation and many individual board members.

“We are deeply grateful for the commitment to the institution and to the region that these standard-setting contributions demonstrate," said Fulkerson. "This fund is absolutely essential to MASS MoCA’s long-term health and vitality. The generosity of our early donors demonstrates leadership at this crucial juncture. In particular, the W.L.S. Spencer Foundation made an extraordinarily generous and brilliantly structured challenge gift that catalyzed this campaign in a way that can only be described as transforming: a philanthropic masterpiece.”

The primary uses of the Permanence Fund proceeds are endowment.

Endowment

With a goal of $16 million, the investment earnings from endowment will eventually provide some 15% of the museum’s total annual operating budget. Of the $16 million endowment goal, $9.8 million has been pledged or raised to date. Additional primary categories of the Permanence Fund include:

* $8.6 million for the Sol LeWitt project

* $6.4 million programming support provided by MASS MoCA’s Board
since 2003, of which $5.6 million has been raised or pledged to date.

*$5.9 million for prepayment of H.U.D. loan, creation of maintenance reserve fund, and other debt reduction, of which $800,000 has been raised.

Yale University Collaboration

In November, MASS MoCA announced a collaborative venture with the Yale University Art Gallery to create a “museum within the museum” devoted to a long-term installation of the monumental wall drawings of the American master, Sol LeWitt.

At that time, just over $6 million of the $8.6 million still remained to be raised. As of today, the museum announced that it had completed the entire $8.6 million development effort, which includes construction costs, a three-volume catalogue raisonné, and a $2.5 million endowment to offset the future operating costs of Building 7, a 27,000 square foot building situated at the heart of the MASS MoCA campus.

The LeWitt building will house 50 large-scale wall drawings, and is expected to become a destination attraction for visitors and scholars from all over the world. This installation will add a core collection to MASS MoCA, which is otherwise known for its program of changing exhibitions, performances, new commissions and artist residencies.

Donors

Donors to the project include generous lead gifts from MASS MoCA trustees, as well as support during the quiet phase from George W. Ahl III, Harrison and Jules Augur, Janice and Mickey Cartin, Paula Cooper, Bob and Happy Doran, Virginia Dwan, Eckert Fine Art, Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation for Art, Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, Robert and Gayle Greenhill, Carolyn and Gerald Grinstein, Agnes Gund and Daniel Shapiro, Mimi Haas, Steven Henry, Barbara Krakow Gallery, Lawrence and Michelle Lasser, Dorothy Lichtenstein and Hal Buckner, Martha and Bob Lipp, Robert and Sylvia Mangold, Susan and Leonard Nimoy, Hazen Polsky Foundation, David and Patty Schulte, Robert and Anna Marie Shapiro, Theodore and Mary Jo Shen, Robert W. Wilson, and David and Charlotte Winton, among others.

The Yale University Art Gallery has raised the additional funds to endow a position for a drawing conservator who will, over time, assume the responsibility for supervising the ongoing realization and care of LeWitt’s wall drawings worldwide.

“As many new works of art have been created in the past seven years through residencies at MASS MoCA as anyplace else in the country, and production residencies at MASS MoCA are now in high demand by some of the most acclaimed artists working today,” said Thompson. “While the artistic potential of MASS MoCA is almost without limit, given our wonderful campus, excellent staff, and small-town economics -- our financial underpinnings have been far too fragile up to now. Over the years we have taken many steps to control expenses and increase earned income and annual philanthropic contributions, but with our sprawling physical plant, these steps have not been sufficient to totally eliminate an annual structural shortfall. Having no endowment or cash reserves, we always had to make up that shortfall, or go out of business."

"No Way To Run a Museum"

"One-time measures – heroic stop-gap giving by key supporters, project management fees, and other entrepreneurial rabbits-out-of-a-hat – filled the hole year-to-year, but these sources are unpredictable. It was no way to run a museum. A harsh winter or unexpected repair could send our bottom line tumbling. We must eliminate that fragility to ensure the continuation of our excellent programs, and the Permanence Campaign is structured to do exactly that. I should emphasize that we will still rely heavily on continuing support by our members, gifts to our annual fund, sponsorships and the generosity of our friends and neighbors, but the Permanence Campaign will provide a financial foundation that has been sorely missing up to now.”

Fulkerson added, “Endowment is especially important for an institution like MASS MoCA with a large physical plant and highly cyclical admissions income. Notwithstanding our fiscal discipline and unusually low cost of operations, our fixed operating expenses for utilities, insurance, and other uncontrollable line items account for over half our annual budget. We are not anticipating that those costs will fall in coming years.”

In addition to exhibitions and performing arts offerings for the general public, MASS MoCA provides performing arts events for local schools annually and reduced-price admission and guides for area school groups. Endowment income will enable the museum to remain accessible and affordable and to continue to serve more than 10,000 regional students who depend on MASS MoCA as their major source of arts education.

Creating At MASS MoCA

The list of artists who have created new work at MASS MoCA is long but among them are: David Byrne, Mona Hatoum, Cai Guo-Qiang, Bang on a Can, Meredith Monk, Steve Reich, Philip Miller, Laurie Anderson, Gregory Crewdson, Lorna Simpson, Huang Yong Ping, Liz Lerman, Shirin Neshat, Carsten Holler, Natalie Jeremijenko, Mabou Mines and Basil Twist, Matthew Ritchie, Jarvis Rockwell, Ann Hamilton, Philip Glass, and Urban Bush Women.

In the next year Spencer Finch, director David Herskovitz, and choreographer David Newman, among others, will be in residency for weeks developing new projects. MASS MoCA located at 87 Marshall Street in North Adams, is the largest center for contemporary visual and performing art in the United States. The galleries are open year-round, and the institution produces more than 60 performing arts events annually in its theaters and outdoor courtyards.

MASS MoCA creates more new work in both the visual and performing arts than any other single cultural institution, provides abundant space at economical cost, transforms decaying and unsightly structures into attractive and productive assets that provide jobs and income, and preserves and celebrates the industrial heritage of the region and the nation.
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