Thursday, June 16, 2005

Cultural Development Strategies for the New Millennium

Late this afternoon, I responded to Charles T. Downey, over
at his superb ionarts music, literature, and culture blog site, on
the subject of "Should Music Have a Place in Museums?".
Charles had responded to Mark Swed's L.A. Times article
noting the cut-back in music programming at the prominent
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
(an arts news item reported by

Here is the reposting of my comment:

Charles, I also read Mark Swed's article yesterday, and I too
have mixed feelings about the Los Angeles County Museum
cutting back on its commitment to contemporary music.
When I think of Los Angeles and Monday nights, I reflectively
think about that city's famous past, progressive Monday night
chamber music series (although I've never attended one).

However, I'm not sure that the situation is comparable to
the much more serious problems at PBS (and NPR, which
I don't know that well). I have visited the LACMA twice in
the past five years, and it is certainly a mess. As one of the
richest and most prominent museums in the country,
it badly needs its "campus renovation", either under
Rem Koolhaas or, now, Renzo Piano. I would hope that
once the renovation is complete, contemporary music would
be invited back in. I think that is what people should be
advocating for. But remember, neither the MET Museum
nor the National Gallery really do justice to modern and
contemporary music either (excepting some jazz).
he Library of Congress and the Freer, of course, are more
progressive in this regard, but both of their progressive
music programs are newer developments.

The LACMA still has its Sunday afternoon emerging
talent concerts, which perhaps aren't of the quality
of the Phillips Gallery recitals or the National Gallery's
programs, but are, to me, an acceptable holding pattern,
especially if they are free and encourage new, younger
audiences. (Am I not correct that all of the MET Museum's
concerts, in NYC, are high quality, but quite expensive,
ticketed events -- as are the few sometimes
contemporary/world music events programmed
in the Temple of Dendur courtyard?)

Charles, as you know, Los Angeles's two new beautiful
"culture palaces or castles" (and I don't mean
that in a bad sense), are the Walt Disney Hall and the
etty Center (and before that the smaller LAMOCA) --
ll beautiful buildings. Does it matter if, for a while, the
music (and new music) activity shifts from LACMA to
he Walt Disney Hall and the MOCA, in the central
downtown? (Isn't this somewhat better than for everyone
to have to drive out to CALARTs, or get up to the
etty Castle, for music concerts?)

Again, I think that a public cultural strategy should be
to hold the renovated LACMA (and the new De Young
Museum, in San Francisco) to the highest standards of
support for music, and new music, when those museums
re-open their doors to the public. I refuse, as of yet, to
give up on the LACMA and music. It is too rich and
important a museum.

(Of course, the National Gallery of Art has also craved
a better mid-size hall for its prestigious and free music
series, and I myself publicly advocated for such a hall
in the late 1990s, at Metro Center; back when the
ashington Opera planned to convert the old Woodies
Department Store into James Ingo Freed's new opera
house. Instead, alas, central downtown D.C became,
under Mayor Williams, largely a "sports and
entertainment destination."


Small image of Renzo Piano's design for the Los Angeles
County Museum of Art:

I personally am still fond of the Rem Koolhaas concept
for the LACMA, though its treatment of the Latin American
Art and Children's Annex was, indeed, problemmatic.
(I first saw the Koolhaas concept for the LACMA at
the Berlin Neue Nationalgalerie:


Post a Comment

<< Home