Wednesday, September 02, 2009


UPDATED 9/3/09 12:38 a.m.
AND UPDATED AGAIN 9/4/09 11:13 a.m.

As a result of the so-called “popcorn summit,” LACMA director Michael Govan has decided to expand the museum’s endangered film program through the end of the year. Good news, yes, but there’s a $10 million condition attached that some feel may prove more than just problematic. David Ng at the Los Angeles Times explains.


UPDATED 9/3/09 12:38 a.m.

Here's Scott Foundas' detailed assessment of the LACMA film series situation so far.


UPDATED 9/4/09 11:13 a.m.

David Ng on a minor snag involving the name of LACMA's proposed CineClub.



Michael said...

Dennis, the $10 million condition, among other things, worries me for the same reason it does others -- thinking on such a grand scale potentially can kill the film program again. There wasn't much inherently wrong with the program to begin with -- as a program, it's been fairly strong in terms of content. The main issue has been LACMA's approach, treating film as an afterthought in terms of budgeting, promotion, and curation. Let's hope the program succeeds (though I, a native Angelino, remain very cautious).

Dennis Cozzalio said...

“(Govan) said that he would like to increase the program's annual budget to $500,000 from its current level of about $350,000. He also said he was looking to raise between $5 million and $10 million in endowments for the re-imagined film program.”

Michael, I may be approaching the issue with much too simple a frame of reference, but I think we're in agreement. I guess I don’t understand why a program that has operated functionally and successfully on such a relatively small budget would need such a large amount in reserve to continue.

I share Doug Cummings concern. He says in the article, that “It seems like Govan is dreaming very big and setting up the program to succeed or fail only in terms of fundraising potential." The way I see it (and I’m speaking as someone with absolutely no practical experience in these matters), once that money is raised and earmarked for expenditures, toward both staff and exhibition, it’s likely that suddenly it will be discovered that the program couldn’t possibly exist without further fundraising at the same level. Then the program’s survival arbitrarily becomes yoked to a much higher, much more difficult-to-obtain goal. It just makes more sense to me to work for the budget increase, secure what funds that can be raised, and think a little smaller, at least to start, rather than raising the bar so high that each year the program ends up on the chopping block, dependent on a base of donations that realistically may not be able to be maintained.

Michael said...

I very much agree, Dennis -- LACMA's new arbitrary goal is a fundraising/donation concern, and not an artistic one, and the best thing to do is for the museum to take those small steps, revive and revise the program a bit, and see what works and what needs further work. I shudder to think what the potential loss of the program altogether would mean for film in LA. We have a good range of arthouse and repertory houses, but LACMA historically has screened films, retrospectives, and events that few, if any, other institutions in the southland have been able to offer. Let's keep our fingers crossed, though.

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