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Displaying items by tag: Budget Cuts

The Louvre kicked off its latest crowd-funding campaign on Tuesday with an appeal for a million euros to help fund the €12.5 million purchase of a jeweled piece of 18th-century furniture, known as the “Table of Peace,” which belonged to a French diplomat who negotiated the end of a Bavarian war.

After two years of budget cuts in state aid for cultural institutions, the Louvre is the second major French museum to turn to Internet fund-raising this month to pay for projects and acquisitions. For the first time, the Musée d’Orsay last week called for €30,000, or about $37,600, in contributions to help finance the €600,000 restoration of Gustave Courbet’s enormous painting of his studio, “L’Atelier du peintre.” By Tuesday, it had collected more than €20,000.

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The former director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome (Macro) says that the institution is facing a financial crisis. Alberta Campitelli, whose contract expired at the end of June, told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica that cuts by the city council mean the museum is at risk of closing. The municipal budget has been reduced from €350,000 in 2013 to €61,000 this year. “We literally have €5,000 a month [from the city],” Campitelli says. In April, the city’s culture councillor, Flavia Barca, announced funding cuts of between €10m and €15m for the capital’s culture and heritage sector.

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Friday, 19 July 2013 13:21

Smithsonian Battles Storage Issues

Washington, D.C.’s Smithsonian Institution, which is comprised of 19 museums and 9 research centers devoted to the “increase and diffusion of knowledge,” has seen an rise in troubles relating to their storage system. The Smithsonian currently has 130 million objects ranging from paintings and furniture to skeletons in their storage and maintenance facilities, many of which reside in damaged containers or poorly organized archives. During a recent audit, the National Museum of American History was allegedly unable to locate 10% of their collection.

The Committee on House Administration held a hearing on Wednesday, July 17th to discuss the challenges facing the care of the Smithsonian’s collections of art, archival footage and delicate objects. Smithsonian Inspector, General Scott Dahl, claimed that the institution is still employing poor storage space that was built in the 1950s and never intended for long-term use. A report from the Smithsonian’s inspector general in 2006 showed that not only were the storage facilities inadequate, but that security and inventory controls were lacking, leaving some of the country’s most precious treasures susceptible to theft or misplacement.

The Smithsonian has been working to fix their storage and maintenance issues for the past seven years and has invested $462 million in collections management and $390 million in facilities improvements. However, ongoing budget cuts have made fixing these issues once and for all, increasingly difficult. In addition, a large portion of the Smithsonian’s budget is currently being used to digitize the museum’s collection, which could take years.

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Exhibition areas in three Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C. will close on Wednesday, May 1, 2013 due to substantial budget cuts known as federal sequestration. Parts of the National Museum of African Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and the Smithsonian Castle will be closed through September 30, 2013.

The closures are part of a sweeping $42 million budget cut that began March 1, 2013 and will last through the end of the fiscal year. The diminished security budget is the main reason officials decided to shut down certain parts of the Smithsonian. Cuts to travel and building maintenance as well as a hiring freeze were announced when the sequestration first went into effect. Smithsonian officials claim that no major exhibition areas will be affected by the closures.

The Smithsonian Castle will close the Commons, a room that features objects from around the Smithsonian; the National Museum of African Art will shutter a section of its permanent exhibition, African Mosaic; and the Hirshhorn Museum will close various sections of its third floor galleries, which house its permanent collection.

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Although major figures in the British art world including Tate director Nicholas Serota, filmmaker Danny Boyle, and artist Jeremy Deller have voiced their opposition, the council of the Borough of Tower Hamlets in London’s East End decided on Wednesday to sell Henry Moore’s Draped Seated Woman. In addition to the big name opponents, more than 1,500 signed a petition against the sale in just a few days.

Completed in 1957, Moore sold the bronze sculpture to the London County Council in 1960 for a fraction of its worth. When the sale was made, Moore and the now defunct London Council agreed that the statue would be on view permanently near a housing project. When the project was leveled in the late 1990s, Draped Seated Woman was moved to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Lutfur Rahman, the mayor of the Tower Hamlets, blamed the government’s severe budget cuts for leaving him with little choice in the matter. The sculpture is expected to bring in about $32 million when it goes to auction in early 2013.

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Federal budget cuts forced the closure of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Save America’s Treasures (SAT) office in July. SAT had provided more than $315m in funding for historic preservation since 1999. US Congress does not plan to renew funding.

“Save America’s Treasures was a model public-private partnership that invested record amounts to preserve the icons of our democracy,” said Bobbie Greene McCarthy, the former SAT director at the national trust. “Its demise is a terrible loss to our country. We were only asking for $5m to keep things going,” she added.

This recent budget cut does not save dollars in terms of tax revenue. “The SAT appropriation comes out of the Historic Preservation Fund, which is funded by outer continental oil lease revenues, not taxes,” said Hampton Tucker, the chief of the Historic Preservation Grants Division, National Park Service.

While the SAT closure is seen by some as a blemish on the Obama administration’s interest in historic preservation, on 11 August, the US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $100m toward the Floridian Everglades restoration under the Wetlands Reserve Program. That funding will go to ranchers to relinquish development rights to as much as 24,000 acres northwest of Lake Okeechobee and preserve them under permanent conservation easements. The same day, Vilsack announced $21.8m in additional funding to help eligible farmers and ranchers in Wyoming conserve the Greater Sage-grouse habitat. Then on 16 August, Ken Salazar, the Secretary of the Interior, announced his department will pump more than $43.1m into conservation and recreation improvement projects in Nevada.

SAT has a long history of providing grants for historic preservation. In 2010, a total of 113 grants were awarded. “SAT grants were matched dollar for dollar and were a spark for community development,” said Greene McCarthy.

The National Park Service continues to administer the SAT grant programme with over 500 grants awarded between 2006-10 that are still active. With no funding, there are no new applications.

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