MOCA’s Financial Woes

November 20, 2008 · Print This Article

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Yesterday Mike Boehm reported that LA’s MOCA is having some serious financial problems. It’s going to be interesting to see how they are going to remedy this. When LACMA opened BCAM many people wished that a institution that had as much land as LACMA would boost their collection to the size of MOCA. So maybe we will see a merger of the two or with The Getty.

via Mike Boehm for the Los Angeles Times:

“Los Angeles’ prestigious but chronically underfunded Museum of Contemporary Art has fallen into crisis. Museum Director Jeremy Strick said MOCA is seeking large cash infusions from donors, and this week he did not rule out the possibility of merging with another institution or sharing its collection of almost 6,000 artworks.

Federal tax returns show that even before the current national crisis, MOCA had been draining its reserves to pay operating expenses. In the meantime, the museum’s staff has grown.

Unlike the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which is partly controlled by the county, MOCA receives minimal government funding. Its annual budget has grown to exceed $20 million, but it relies on donors to pay about 80% of its expenses. When the gifts have fallen short, as they have more often than not during Strick’s nine-year tenure, the museum has gone into its savings.

In recent years, the museum has averaged 250,000 visits annually to view critically acclaimed exhibitions and a collection boasting works by such post-World War II masters as Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg and Mark Rothko.

By one important measure — “unrestricted assets,” money that can be used for any purpose — MOCA is in dire straits. Its federal tax returns show that early in this decade the museum had spent all $20 million of its unrestricted funds to meet routine operating costs. By mid-2007, it had borrowed an additional $7.5 million from “restricted” accounts, even though those are designated by donors for specific uses, such as education or buying art.

In an interview this week, Strick would not disclose more recent financial figures. But he acknowledged that the national economic crisis had further flattened the museum’s cushion. MOCA’s investment portfolio was worth $20.4 million in mid-2007, down from $36.2 million in mid-2000.

Most investment portfolios have lost significant value this fall.”

Read the rest of the article here

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