The great cities of the world have always been centers of culture as well as commerce. For Los Angeles to attain true greatness, it must support cultural institutions of excellence like the Museum of Contemporary Art. Yet despite its professed claims of international cultural prominence, Los Angeles has never given MOCA the support it deserves. Even as it fights for its very survival, MOCA has earned a worldwide reputation for excellence. Its once distinguished curatorial staff is now sadly decimated to a point of near extinction, and the artists who gave it the breath of life are alienated and disheartened.
The solution is not a merger, no matter how generous and well intentioned the suitors. Two great museums are always better than one, and all great cities have many. It is time for Angelenos to step up to the plate and support a strong and independent MOCA.
At a minimum, this support must include an endowment of at least $100 million, with no significant indebtedness; sufficient annual operating funds to restore and maintain an exhibition program of the quality for which MOCA has become internationally renowned; the continuous building of its world-class collection; a wholehearted embrace of Los Angeles' diverse creative community; and a board of trustees committed to both the financial well-being of the institution and the independence of its director and curators.
I do not accept that this cannot be done — because I know it can.
The writer, a past president of the Los Angeles City Council and a former MOCA board member, is president of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
Since 1979, MOCA has been an integral part of Los Angeles' cultural fabric, serving as an important anchor on downtown's Grand Avenue, drawing throngs of visitors to this important cultural corridor. Its history of rich artistic and educational programming has benefited the entire community.
With the coming of the Broad Collection museum to a location across from MOCA, there will be tremendous synergies that will benefit MOCA and all of the cultural venues in downtown.
The future of MOCA is a community concern, going well beyond the boards of MOCA and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the broader art world. Downtown has a tremendous stake in this institution and we will do all that we can to maintain its presence here as an independent and world-class museum.
We are a city deserving of a great and strong LACMA, an equally great and strong MOCA and a true center of culture in a newly revitalized, 24/7 downtown.
Carol E. Schatz
The writer is president and chief executive of the Central City Assn. of Los Angeles.