That’s the brave and provocative question that Frank Robinson, a former museum director at Williams College, Cornell and RISD, asks in the New York Times’s Opinionator blog. Robinson has the guts to go where Peter Schjeldahl feared by starkly portraying the dilemma facing public support for art. The questions facing Detroit and the DIA are not unique, they’re simply stark:
The same choice is being played out in many other communities across the country.
Robinson goes beyond the opposition of civic penury and extraordinary value of art works:
Mixed into this is the fact that museums have become dependent on support from federal, state and local government in the form of tax subsidies, tax exemptions, especially from real estate tax, and, most important, tax deductions. At the same time, private donors are being asked to give more and more; how long will the 1 percent agree to subsidize a service for the 99 percent? There are more than 100,000 nonprofit arts organizations in this country, all with their hands out.
An Invitation to Dialogue: Art in Hard Times (Opinionator/New York Times)