The dispute over the future of the Corcoran seems to have reached a new level: The “Save the Corcoran” group delivered this letter to the Corcoran late yesterday and distributed it to media late last night. In today’s Washington Post, Corcoran spokesperson Mimi Carter unloaded on the group, saying that the Corcoran was “surprised and distressed by the many false statements and inaccuracies in the letter.” The Post’s story also re-hashes some territory covered on MAN in July, when I reported that the District of Columbia attorney general was monitoring the Corcoran situation and why.
One quick thought: I love that the Save the Corcoran folks have a little spunk-and-sandpaper to ‘em. But the likeliest outcome of Save the Corcoran’s letter is that it’s now even harder for donors and foundations to return to or to begin to support the Corcoran, which will in turn make it harder to ’save’ the museum and the school. The problem here is not just that the Corc is giving every indication of wanting to sell its landmark Flagg building, it’s that the Corcoran is spending a lot more money than it’s taking in via donations and tuition, and has been for a long, long time.
It’s plain that Washington has little faith in the Corcoran’s current leadership — the institution’s anemic fundraising numbers make that plenty clear — but the STC letter will likely further erode donor/foundation confidence in the current leadership, without necessarily leading to anything new or different.
I don’t know what will ’save’ the Corcoran — aside from some kind of outside take-over, which still seems the likeliest ‘ending’ here — but the only way this kind of full-frontal assault will help is if it prompts the board to make wholesale changes in the Corcoran executive suites — and in its own boardroom. There’s no sign anything of the sort is likely, at least not yet.
Previously on MAN: Forget about the school for a moment, does the Corcoran Gallery of Art have a future? DC AG looking at possible Corcoran move. The Corcoran’s monetization of a long-term lease raises more questions. The Corcoran by the numbers. A long-term failure of leadership.