News and Features

Thursday Roundup

BIG MONEY FOR OLD MASTERS – The DMA now has a $17 million endowment for buying only pre-1700 paintings and sculptures by Europeans. A tad ‘old dead white male-ish,’ you say? Well, actually, when you’re a ‘universal museum,’ as the DMA is — meaning its collection tries to cover all historical periods, all cultures — Old Masters are a weak spot. They’re not making any more of them, they’re trop couteux (too costly) and the bigger, more established universal museums, like the Met or the Art Institute of Chicago, got there first. And then there are the newer joints, like the Kimbell or the Getty, that simply have far bigger endowments. Don’t buy this argument? Well, neither did the DMA — buy, that is, the  ‘newly attributed,’ $200 million da Vinci that hung around the DMA for several months last year. So now major patron Margueritte Hoffman has come up with some serious cash for a fund named for her and her late husband Robert, a fund dedicated to buying Renaissance and Baroque artworks:

The gift creates a $13,600,000 restricted acquisitions endowment and a $3,400,000 operating endowment in support of pre-1700 European acquisitions, exhibitions, and programs. This new fund more than doubles the DMA’s acquisition endowment and brings total funds in support of the Museum’s acquisitions to 50,000,000.

A LITTLE MONEY, BUT NO THANKS- The idea of creating a PID — a public improvement district that taxes– to help fund the privately built and managed Klyde Warren Park did not make for happy campers after the park’s board suggested it last week, especially because the park supposedly said they’d never ask for help. Robert Wilonsky reports in the News (paywall) hat many of the Arts District honchos — even though their organizations near the park would be exempt from the small tax the PID would levy — wrote a letter objecting to it. They fear it would raise relatively little money for the park. Worse, it’d screw up any efforts to create a PID to help the Arts District in general. Jim Schutze is alarmed at the contretemps. Why’s a PID so attractive? As I explained two years ago when I suggested that a PID was precisely what ALL the city’s cultural centers need, a PID provides a regular funding source for things like facility maintenance. It’d be free from the political and economic machinations that go with the city’s general budget and that have caused drastic funding cuts in recent years, despite the city’s expressed commitments to support the center.

SPREADING IT AROUNDPhilip Roth: Unmasked airs tomorrow night on KERA; Chris Vognar reviews it (” a lively 90 minutes spent with the greatest living American novelist”). … The Dallas Children’s Theatre’s production of A Wrinkle in Time has gotten good reviews here and here. … Star-Telegram reporter risks life to fly like Cathy Rigby in Peter Pan at Bass Hall. She lives.