Arts brace against recession like none other

Posted on: May 5, 2009

“As the world’s richest art institution, the J. Paul Getty Trust has never been too concerned about pinching pennies,” write Paul Farhi and Jacqueline Trescott in Sunday’s (5/3) Washington Post. “But these days no one, not even the Getty, can escape the gravitational pull of a worldwide economic crisis. With its investment portfolio shrinking from $6.4 billion to $4.2 billion since mid-2007, the Getty said last week that it would slash its operating budget by 22 percent and its staff by 14 percent.” The recession has stopped a period of growth in the arts that allowed many to flourish even through a previous downturn. “But arts administrators say this recession feels altogether different: deeper, more widespread, nastier. Unlike in previous downturns, the battering is coming from all sides. The stock market’s decline has shrunk the endowments on which many organizations depend. The banking crisis has cut off funds from reliable corporate patrons. State and local tax funds, until recently a growing source of support, have been slashed, too.” There is also an emerging perception among potential donors that in a downturn, the arts are an excess compared with other non-profits. The article includes commentary from arts organizations nationwide, including several orchestras.

Posted May 5, 2009

Photo: Getty Museum