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Turan on LACMA plans: 'What are these people drinking?'

July 30, 2009 |  9:35 am

LACMA film program

This week, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art revealed it will be shutting down its separate film department, which has been presenting classic Hollywood fare for more 40 years. The reason: The weekend program has been losing money and its audience for several years. Now LACMA is taking a break to consider options and seek out donors.

Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan isn't happy about this.

Museums in Southern California seem to be losing their collective minds.

First downtown's Museum of Contemporary Art spent big chunks of its endowment on day-to-day expenses. Then the Orange County Museum of Art secretly sold some of its paintings to a private collector. And now the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the museum of record in ground zero for the film industry, is killing its movie program. What are these people drinking?

I know, I know, the official word from LACMA Director Michael Govan is that the film program is not dead but on some half-baked hiatus while he puts his best minds to work "reconsidering the nature, scale and scope" of what the museum is doing.

You'll excuse me, but the logic of needing to stop the program in order to rethink it sounds suspiciously like the apocryphal Vietnam War rationale that "we had to burn the village to save it." That the museum seems to lack the ability to consider the situation's pros and cons while things are up and running doesn't give me a lot of confidence in its ultimate decision.

Read the entire article here.

-- Lisa Fung

Photo: Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Comments () | Archives (6)

More museum director boilerplate. Haven't we had enough of this meaningless gibberish from museum people? Yeah LACMA - build another building and ditch a consistently great LA film program. That shows the museum is really in touch with LA. Film is the great art form of the 20th Century and deserves to be seen alongside painting and sculpture. And LA is a huge part of that history. Isn't this a county museum? Don't they answer to us - the taxpayers? I sense a protest coming on...

LACMA can spend $900,000 on political contributions advocating for one ballot proposition (http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/bottleneck/2008/10/lacma-gives-400.html), but can't afford that amount over 10 YEARS to subsidize its outstanding film program. What business are they in exactly?

Although my wife and I are patron members, the excesses of LACMA are causing us to turn down every additional request for money. This latest decision now has me considering downgrading my membership when it is up for renewal.

I most forcefully protest the closing of the LACMA film program.
I have been attending showings of films that are impossible to see on a large screen since 1977.
RON HAVER was a great loss to the rpogram.
Perhaps you need a program diector who knows how to advertise a more accessable program.
I am outraged.

You hit on it exactly Mr. Polak. LACMA is not a museum but a corporation with a president, CEO and shareholders. Ballot measures, buildings, real estate and in last place? Art (and I include film as art here.)

Do you know about the incredible film program being created for Marfa? New York continues to dream big and make it come true in Marfa with this latest development.

With the continued support of foundations, corporate donors and our members, the Ballroom Marfa Drive-In will be the first American drive-in theater created by a non-profit cultural arts foundation. With a cutting-edge design and exceptional programming, it will be an internationally significant architectural, cultural, and civic project that epitomizes Ballroom Marfa’s ambitious pursuit of community engagement and artistic expression. Designed by acclaimed architect and Harvard Associate Professor Michael Meredith the Drive-In will be a sculptural reconfiguration of classic outdoor drive-in theater architecture. Inaugural event curatorship from Josh Siegel, Film Curator of the Museum of Modern Art will provide the foundation from which Ballroom Marfa will expand our film programming in directions both innovative and community-oriented during the annual season."

You tell 'em, Kenneth!

Martin Scorsese had some good points of his own too: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2009/08/martin-scorsese-an-open-letter-to-michael-govan-and-lacma.html.

And OK_ART is most correct to include film as "art." It is indeed a true art form and should always be considered as such. In fact, it astounds me that the point even needs to be pointed out and defended.



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