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Cultural infrastucture bailouts?

December 9, 2008 | 11:05 am

David_ross_3 10.  Create an emergency bailout fund for cultural institutions in dire need. A mere $250 million would do.

That's former art museum director (SFMOMA, Whitney) David Ross, finishing up a Twitter list of 10 urgent suggestions for President-elect Barack Obama in the area of cultural affairs in the United States.

Ross does not say so, but it's no stretch of the imagination to guess at least two of the institutions that prompted the thought: One is the Detroit Institute of Arts, the other is L.A.'s Museum of Contemporary Art. (Feel free to add the Barnes Foundation in Merion, Pa.; if you're a follower of the performing arts, make an additional list of opera companies, orchestras, etc.)

At the very least, a lot of the "dire need" in the national arts infrastructure could be eased by the amount of money likely to be doled out by Wall Street in a few unearned year-end bonuses. In a crisis, Washington tends to spill enough money to fund any number of excellent art museums.

--Christopher Knight

Photo credit: Lena Bertucci

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