Aug 10, 2009

Arts Funding Cuts at Universities

Patricia Cohen has an article for the New York Times on the current funding cuts plaguing Universities across the US.  It speaks to the general trend plaguing arts funding in America, but indicates as well I think a potential tide of deaccessions across the country:

If you are looking for a sign of how strapped the University of California, Los Angeles, is for cash, consider that its arts and architecture school may resort to holding a bake sale to raise money. California’s severe financial crisis has left its higher-education system — which serves nearly a fifth of the nation’s college students — in particularly bad straits. But tens of thousands of students at public and private colleges and universities around the country will find arts programs, courses and teachers missing — victims of piercing budget cuts — when they descend on campuses this month and next.

At Washington State University the department of theater arts and dance has been eliminated. At Florida State University the undergraduate program in art education and two graduate theater programs are being phased out. The University of Arizona is cutting three-quarters of its funds, more than $500,000, for visiting classical music, dance and theater performers. Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts, which supports four departments — dance, music, theater and visual arts — is losing 14 percent of its $1.2 million budget over the next two years. The Louisiana State University Museum of Art, one of the largest university-affiliated collections in the South, saw 20 percent of its state financing disappear. Other private and state institutions warn of larger classes, trimmed offerings, higher tuition and fewer services, faculty and visitors.
 Given this, I think we need to seriously ask whether the current set of rules for deaccessioning works of art are really ensuring the continued viability of the arts.  Why can't a University decide to sell all or part of its art collection?  So long as it remains on display or available to researchers in the public trust, who is harmed?
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