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LACMA's Govan says donors step forward for film program

August 7, 2009 |  6:33 pm

Michael Govan In the wake of the chorus of disapproval that greeted last week's announcement that he was red-lighting the 40-year-old weekend film series at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, museum Director Michael Govan has some good news: Potential donors have stepped up, interested in helping underwrite the series.

"If people didn't complain, we'd be in real trouble -- it would mean people don't value film at the museum," Govan said today from New York, where he's vacationing. "The stir ... has already resulted in calls from people who can lend a hand."

The weekend shows are scheduled to be suspended in October, leaving only Tuesday matinee screenings and occasional films tied to art exhibitions. LACMA has downgraded its longtime film department head to a part-time consultant.

Govan said he has meetings lined up next week to talk with prospective donors who came forward unsolicited, but he wouldn't say who or how much money may be on the table.

Last week, Govan said about $5 million would endow a basic film program; today he upped the ante. "I'd love to see $10 million." As a rule of thumb, nonprofits aim to spend about 5% of an endowment annually, so a $10-million endowment would yield about $500,000 a year to run a film department.

LACMA officials have said that the film program has lost about $1 million over the last 10 years. Museum President Melody Kanschat said that whether to sustain it has been an issue in LACMA's budget discussions for at least seven years. Govan said that when he was hired in April 2006, he resolved to "give it three years, hoping it would take root with all the energy" surrounding the museum's ongoing expansion and renovation -- including the 2008 opening of the Broad Contemporary Art Museum and next year's scheduled opening of another structure by architect Renzo Piano, the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion.

With audiences and revenues still declining, Govan said, the alternatives for the film program were: "Let it fade away with smaller and smaller budgets every year" or halt it until funding could be found to make it succeed. "We can do this," he said. "Film can be a shining star."

-- Mike Boehm

Photo credit:Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times

Related stories:

Los Angeles County Museum of Art cancels its weekend film program

LACMA getting an earful about axed film program

LACMA slaps film in the face

LACMA's cruelest cut


 
Comments () | Archives (3)

So this guy raises consciousness and money by threatening to close a program? Maybe he can raise 50 million to run his museum by saying he's going to close it? Maybe we can have 5 million from his Jeff Koons giant limp hanging train, since building that work is his passion. Speaking of his passion - how many pictures of this guy are you going to publish? The museum is about art not the director. This one obviously loves attention and his own photo - seems he really does think all publicity is GOOD publicity and sends out a picture of himself for ANY and every occasion. He and his methods are specious.

Why does he need so much money to run a film program? I read that it costs $200,000 a year to run and has been running a deficit of $100,000 a year. Setting the price at $5 million or $10 million is just a way of scaring off contributors with unreasonable demands -- or of making money off a film program they are threatening to kill.


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