Friday, October 12, 2012
A few weeks ago I heard the NPR morning talk show about funding for the arts in Philadelphia and how the city was going from strength to strength. Discussing the masses of money that goes to "public" organizations was the guy that runs the Fringe Festival and several public CEO's. Granted, (no pun) Philadelphia has great museums and a fabulous cultural scene, but not one guest or caller commented on why all the (few) commercial galleries continue to close – I count only 4 or 5 that have survived since I moved here in 1995. This is something I have commented on before and I believe continues to be massively misunderstood. Even individual artists are held ransom by PEW and other grant seeking. If you don't get the money, you keep the day job 'till death. I don't have a problem with that because I knew the job was dangerous when I took it; being a painter. What gets me riled is the bogus debate about why Philly will not or cannot support private contemporary galleries. It is not our relationship to New York. It is because the culture of public funding sucks all the interest and money away from the scene; those hedge fund dudes with bow ties I see at openings and benefits. A wonderful small private gallery like Rebekah Templeton can never grow without buyers and I mean the people whose money goes to support the non-profits! Ironic, eh? Blame the ICA, the Fabric Workshop and Mural Monopoly and all the other organizations with budgets that are publicly funded. I will end my sermon by asking why the main art critic of the Inquirer will not set foot in any establishment other than a museum or public space?