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MOCA Takes Broad's $15 Million Bailout

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Los Angeles' beleaguered Museum of Contemporary Art has been resuscitated by the generous purse-strings of a well-known benefactor. According to the LA Times, MOCA's board "has voted to accept a $30-million bailout offer from billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad, a founder and life trustee of the museum and the city's largest arts patron." This means that MOCA will not opt for a merger with LACMA and will instead to continue to operate independently. Broad has said that despite his philanthropic connection to LACMA, he feels there will be no damage to his relationship with them in light of his move to rescue MOCA.

Operations, however, behind the scenes at MOCA will be under new stewardship. Current director Jeremy Strick has resigned after much public pressure to do so, and the board "has appointed UCLA Chancellor Emeritus Charles E. Young as the museum's first chief executive." Strick has not commented on his resignation, and Broad, while supportive of the removal of Strick and agreeable to the appointment of Young, did not call for it or make it a condition of the agreement.

Broad's bailout comes after much speculation and debate about the future of the city's central bastion devoted to modern art, including Broad's initial assertion that he alone could not save MOCA. However, since the museum is "a linchpin of [Broad's] planned Grand Avenue redevelopment," he made a generous offer that MOCA could not, apparently, refuse. The agreement stipulates that "the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation will match contributions to MOCA's endowment up to $15 million and provide $3 million a year for exhibition support for five years." His matching plan is set up so that for each dollar MOCA raises, Broad's foundation will put in a dollar, rather than asking MOCA to come up with a full $15 million in order to receive his $15 million.

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Still, the bailout doesn't mean things will move forward status quo at MOCA. The museum, which has been operating at an average annual cost of $20 million, must now run on "an annual budget of 'no less than $13 million and no more than $16 million in cash expenses' but says that the museum may operate at a higher level if it has the cash income to do so."

Photo by Chang'r via Flickr