An exhibit of work by the faculty of the Arkansas Arts Center's Museum School — both current and former — opens today at the Arts Center. The member reception scheduled for it tonight, however, has been moved to next Tuesday, Jan. 18, from 6-8 p.m. If you're not a member, you can buy a membership at the reception.
Artists exhibiting in the show include Tony Baker, David Bailin (that's his charcoal "Anticipated Exile" above), Selma Blackburn, John Bridges, Nancy Brillos-Henderson, Rachel Carroccio, Stephen Cephalo, Bryan Clifton, David Paul Cook, Angela Cummings, Carla Davis, David Dodson, Hamid Ebrahimifar, Kelly Edwards, E. Kim Fifer, Gary Fults, Cookie Golden, Endia Gomez, Jann Greenland, Marlene Gremillion, Patricia Holifield, Julie Holt, Kandy Jones, Jacquelyn Kaucher, Denise Kimbrough, Beth Lambert, Fletcher Larkin, Kathy Lindsey, Jessica Lowder, Earl Magnuson, Delita Martin, Shep Miers, Jean Mross, Deborah Poe, Teresa Smith, Mary Ann Stafford, Celia Storey, Nancy Wilson, Emily Wood and Miranda Young.
The show is part of the Arts Center's celebration of its 50th anniversary (it was created by city ordinance in September 1960; the building opened in 1963).
Speaking of that ordinance — in yesterday's finance committee meeting of the Arts Center Board of Directors, there was some discussion about how to keep donors names off documents, since documents created by the Arts Center are a matter of public record. One board member — Belinda Shults, perhaps? it was a meeting by phone and speakers didn't always identify themselves — asked if the reason the Arts Center's business was public was because of the $100,000 the city gives the Arts Center.
The board member sounded resentful, both at the public nature of the institution and the (admittedly) paltry amount the city has been able to contribute in recent years, way less than the $480,000 the city once contributed (which itself was a decrease from earlier contributions, though I can't lay my hands on the number right now).
The answer to the board member’s question is yes and no. The taxpayer dollars are only one reason. That ordinance the Arts Center is currently celebrating is another — the Arts Center is a city agency, not a private non-profit. It is on city property. A portion of the building belongs to the city.
I understand the resentment at the pittance the city gives the Arts Center. It could easily up that amount by $200,000 by shipping the money it sends the Chamber of Commerce to the Arts Center instead — and get more bang for its buck. And I can get it why the board doesn't want to disclose donor names — they believe publicity could discourage potential donors from giving. Development people get the hives if you ask them about donors. Some folks get royally ticked off if you find out they’ve given money and publish it (one such person called me, though not to my face, a four-letter word that starts with C and ends with T for daring to publicize Tabriz bids).
But disclosure can be valuable. The public has a better picture of why the “World of the Pharaohs” show put the Arts Center in the tank because it knows the administration relied for more than a year on Nigerian-bank-scheme-flavored communiqués from a sheik that a half-million-dollar gift was on its way. It wasn’t. But it was budgeted nevertheless. And disclosure from non-profits is eventually made public, in the 990 tax forms they're required to file by the IRS.
What I don’t get, after all the "Pharaohs" publicity, is why the public nature of the Arts Center is still murky in the minds of those who serve the public by serving on its board.