Saturday, January 31, 2009

needed: curator with sandwich-board

Have you been following the financial troubles at MOCA? Combination of woes: the endowment has taken a big hit (as all endowments have) in the current recession; major mismanagement from the top; allegedly, boring curatorial choices ("Everyone i know just go to shop at the stores anyways. The shows have been either really good or really bad, but the store is always worth the trip and the hassle to park"); and, the presence already in LA of LACMA, which isn't supposed to cause overlap or redundancy, but perhaps does. The inner workings of this crisis are of course much more complex than I've just now conveyed. I recommend KCRW's "The Politics of Culture" (radio show that is also an audio podcast available on KCRW's web site and through iTunes), which hosted a fascinating discussion on the topic among several long-time LA art people.

Well, yesterday MOCA announced that 20% of the staff will be laid off. And they will cut other operating expenses. It will reduce expenses by $4.4M annually, but when I last understood the math here, I think they were $12M in the red annually even after a pledge of a major endowment gift by Eli Broad.

Here's the L. A. Times story on the lay-offs. One commentator snarks as follows: "Anyway, what I don't understand about the cuts is why they are aiming them at the marketing department. After all, they are the ones who actually put together the programs meant to lure people into the museum, and therefore bring in the money. What they going to do now? Have the prints assistant curator stand at Union Station with a clapboard [sandwich board] around their neck??"