The L.A. Times almost always endorses a mayoral candidate, a California proposition vote, a Presidential contender. Yet Sunday’s editorial, “Saving MOCA,” avoided taking sides on the MOCA takeover proposals. It settled for dispensing a few general pointers, among them: MOCA “should not… surrender its fate to an overbearing or financially suspect entity.” Great. That rules out the Koch brothers and M.C. Hammer.
It’s tough to fault the Times’ evasiveness. None of the takeover or partnership candidates have supplied many details of what they’re proposing. MOCA hasn’t released financial information past mid 2011. The museum’s salvation comes down to fundraising, and few know anything of that black art. How can any citizen have an opinion?
Bloomberg reported that MOCA’s board would meet to consider offers on March 15. That’s last Friday and so far, there has been no report of an outcome. Whatever happens, if it happens, is likely to be presented the public as a fait accompli.
The current crisis is founded on the supposition that MOCA can’t itself raise enough money to go on, though other parties might be able to raise it on MOCA’s behalf. The L.A. contemporary art community has passed through phases of anger and bargaining (2008) to end up at depression and acceptance (2013). That, more than anything, is why talk of a LACMA takeover had gotten more traction this time out. In some quarters hope springs eternal, though. The L.A. Times editorialist ends on the thought that “this latest tumult may prompt an urgent effort to raise that money and give the museum a way to survive on its own.”
I’ve tried to structure a poll that might be somewhat informative to public opinion. All the usual caveats about Internet polls apply, and I don’t pretend that this blog’s readers are typical, whatever that means. I won’t ask whether readers want MOCA to remain as it is (was!) because I’m pretty sure the answer would be yes, and everyone knows that.
Instead, I’ll pose two different questions. For the first, focus on what you predict will happen, not on what you hope. For the second’s options, I’ll include the National Gallery (even though no merger or financial assistance has been proposed) and the Broad (even though takeover rumors have been emphatically denied). (Top of post: Steve Powers’ signage, show in MOCA’s “Art in the Streets.”)
UPDATE. Cindy Bernard and Diana Thater of MOCA Mobilization have sent this e-mail to the Board of Trustees of MOCA:
“We are writing as collection artists, as donors and as concerned members of the arts community to request that the Board of Trustees make public the details of any proposals under consideration that effect the future of the Museum (such as proposals from USC, LACMA and the National Gallery). The speculation in the press on the details of these proposals is doing damage to the reputation of the Museum. It is only through the dissemination of accurate information that a true discussion can take place.
“MOCA refers to itself as The Artists Museum — its relationship to the arts community has always been its strength. It is, we believe, essential that the Board organize a public forum and take input from the arts community prior to making a decision on any merger or partnership plans.
“Only though working together can a stable future for MOCA be realized.”