On March 28, the NY Times ran a special section all about museums. Everything from the new New Museum in NYC to Guggenheim expansion in Abu Dhabi, and even included an article about the new Grand Rapids Art Museum - which boasts the first newly constructed museum of its size to obtain LEED certification.

The article discusses the initial funding strategies for the new GRAM, which mentions the


more than $20 million donated by Peter Wege - who also steered them to build 'green'. The rest of the article, as well as the entire Museum section, continues to focus on development and dollar amounts. The NY Times evens goes as far to provide online readers with an interactive map of museum expansion across the country.

Just a few days after this article ran, Michigan Governor, Jennifer Granholm, announced a moratorium on all state funding for arts and cultural organizations [see: Grand Rapids Press article]. The freeze on this funding will remain for the rest of the fiscal year which ends September 30th. This reactionary move by the state of Michigan is in response to the state's budget crisis, which is undoubtedly related to Michigan's new ranking as the state with highest unemployment rate. Michigan surpassed Alabama and South Carolina, with an employment rate of 6.9% [see: U.S. Dept. of Labor report, March 8, 2007].

What really seems to be the focus here? How is it possible that between $60 and $75 million is being dropped on a building to house art, when people who make art can't even receive a mere fraction of this money? Grand Rapids realizes the wonderful things that Peter Wege has done and continues to do for the city of Grand Rapids, the state of Michigan and the environment - but sustainability goes beyond the architecture of a building. If populations interested in frequenting buildings like the GRAM, or even producing objects to be housed there, can't survive - what is the point in creating something sustainable and long lasting?

LAMB calls for Peter Wege and other philanthropists interested in the arts to actively create an endowment dedicated to arts production in the city of Grand Rapids. Those interested please contact: LAMB.

Posted on April 4, 2007 12:07 PM


what about the arts council?? dont they already do something similar? they are surely effected by the budget cuts...not sure if private donors should step up to fill that gap...but i like your point about sustainability beyond the architecture of a the scheme of things that money does seem misguided, however i do appreciate their attempt at funding the arts in gr.

Posted by: Emma on April 4, 2007 2:27 PM

I hear your complaint and yet maybe we artists just need to make work and embrace the poverty and let it cook our vision even more potent.

"The present stage of technical civilization may call for a very ascetic art developed in the loopholes of poverty and isolation as counterbalance against the buisness coulture which tends to cover the whole world."

from What NAtional Socialisim Has Done to the Arts by Theodor Adorno 1945

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