Charles Demarais has a cautionary tale of what happens to private museums and art parks when the funding isn’t enough to maintain the founder’s ambitions. Yesterday, the di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art announced it would scale back it’s 1600-work collection of contemporary art to end deficit spending from the center’s endowment.
The center, established to promote works by Northern California artists, sees 13,000 annual visitors. Demarais takes it from there:
Robert Sain, executive director of the center, said the annual budget of about $3 million is insufficient to maintain the collection di Rosa left behind, and the institution has been running at a deficit.
“The reality is the organization has just always been underfunded,” Sain said in a phone interview. “We’re doing all this to make sure we can … be viable and have a sustainable future.”
The center has a staff of 15 full-time and seven part-time employees. Sain has an estimable background in museum education, design and fundraising; curator Amy Owen has a solid curatorial background. A second curator, Kara Q. Smith, was quietly laid off last year.
Graham Beal, former director of the Detroit Institute of Arts, is advising Sain and the di Rosa board on collection matters. A onetime curator at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Beal knew and worked with Rene di Rosa on museum projects.