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Tuesday 02.10.09

« New Artist Talk Series @ PAM | Main | Visual Valentine »

Links and leadership

First off, Tyler Green's two part interview with Rose Museum board chair Jonathan Lee is a must read for anyone on a non-profit board. Christopher Knight's historical addendum to Tyler's posts also brings the situation into greater focus. It is an incredibly cautionary tale and if this museum is as they say "monetized" it could set off a flashflood of short sighted anti-cultural profiteering. Long standing institutions keep things in trust for the public and its the public that loses when museums are destroyed for convenience. Leadership means looking at the heuristics of the situation, not simply some cause an effect and if Brandeis does move forward I suspect the lawsuits from those who donated to the Rose will make them wish they hadn't.

Second, frequent PORT reader and our favorite writer over at the Mercury Matt Davis has a report on the I-5 Bridge. It's good that Sam is taking his measure of this thing and not moving too quickly. Still one major issue remains, the project will need a major architect. An engineer simply cant juggle the competing desires, politics and functions of a project like this and PORT was one of the first to really make this case a long long time ago... pre scandal Sam heard it too. Hopefully our beleaguered mayor can show some leadership on this very important issue and bring more intelligent discussion, but something tells me he needs an architect to take that role over from him. Here's a start: a major bridge design competition will allow architects to help the public understand the bridge in ways this project hasn't manifested yet. A bridge is functional philosophy and the architect takes on the role of whipping boy (freeing politicians to do other things like torment the architect the hired).

Last but not least PORT is still thinking about the MoCC/PNCA merger and PNCA has even thanked us for forwarding a more intelligent discussion on the subject (see O we aren't slagging, we know what we are talking about and we were criticizing the plan to make it better, now if that only worked everywhere else). I'm simply cautious about this situation and combining a museum with an art school is tricky business, it can be done right but I don't want PNCA to inadvertently hurt itself and Portland in turn. That's actually pretty easy to do.

Here are some more thoughts:

To pull this off properly PNCA has to legitimately look like it is riding to MoCC's rescue... but the thing is a lot of people are starting to think PNCA isn't doing that.

That's a problem that PNCA will definitely need to address when the details come out by:

1)Providing a timeline showing that MoCC's board definitely tried to save the museum themselves before approaching external partners... basically it is due diligence and without it this thing smells bad.

2)Giving MoCC more leverage for autonomy than they actually have in these talks

3)Lay out a plan to build a separate endowment for the museum

Without those safegaurds in place Tom Manley will start to look like the next John Buchanan to people (something I'm already hearing) and that concerns me. Tom is a friend of mine and PNCA has gotten where it is by generating good will as an ambitious underdog in the community. The fact is even with a museum acquisition PNCA still is technically an underdog ... and it's important that they are percieved that way until the 511 building is finished and its renovations are paid for. Losing that community good will would be disasterous.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 10, 2009 at 23:07 | Comments (0)


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