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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

DON’T KILL THE GOOSE


Don’t kill the goose
We suggest the city looks for other sources of revenue, allowing cultural institutions to continue to do what we do best

By Malcolm Rogers. Opinion, Issue 231, January 2012
Published online: 01 January 2012

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), is one of the world’s great cultural institutions, whose impact on the quality of life of its city is immeasurable. But the generosity of spirit that built this great museum is being buffeted by a surprising entity—the City of Boston itself—which has put in motion a plan to drastically increase the “voluntary” contributions cultural institutions make through its payment in lieu of taxes (Pilot) programme (see p13). When civic leaders look to cultural organisations as a source of revenue, rather than as an invaluable resource for the communities they serve, it has dire implications nationwide.

Since the MFA opened its doors on 4 July 1876, it has been almost entirely privately funded. Unlike our peer museums—the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago, which receive millions of dollars in financing from their cities—we are not funded by our municipality. Thankfully, Boston is a profoundly philanthropic city and the MFA has been supported in good times and difficult times by many committed individuals, foundations and corporations who understand the benefits of a world-class museum.

As a charitable organisation, the MFA is exempt by law from state and federal taxes. However, the programme developed by Boston’s Pilot task force circumvents this status by recommending payments for important city functions, such as the fire and police services. To the best of our knowledge the MFA is the only major art museum in the country that makes payments in lieu of taxes. We have participated in this revenue initiative since 1988 when the museum opened its parking garage. We contributed $55,000 in 2010/11. The proposed increases would raise our payments to $250,000 in 2011/12 and to $1,025,000 in four years. The new Pilot formula sets the payment at 25% of the estimated tax a cultural organisation would have paid if it were a taxable entity, less a 50% community service credit. In devising this plan the task force never sought the input of any of the city’s cultural institutions.


BOSES

BOSES

IBALONG

IBALONG

THY WOMB

THY WOMB

PHILIPPINE ART PUBLICATIONS



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