The Magic Castle Cancels Plans To Match $50,000 In Members' Social Justice Donations
The Magic Castle offered its parking lot as a staging ground for law enforcement during the protests over the killing of George Floyd. Members were upset, leading the dinner-and-a-show performance venue/clubhouse for magicians to issue a statement in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. It also offered to match member contributions to social justice causes up to a total of $50,000.
However, the nonprofit that operates the Magic Castle has since told members that it won't be matching those donations, instead saying that it will spend up to $50,000 to form an ad hoc Diversity and Inclusion Committee. In a post to a private members Facebook group, the board of the Academy of Magical Arts said it had been advised by counsel that it could not legally proceed with the matching fund. The reason was not immediately clear, but may be related to the Academy's nonprofit status.
Some members of that private Facebook group had expressed dissatisfaction with the board's initial decision to match donations to political causes.
One member, a regular headlining performer, told us in an email that the new committee could be a big step in the right direction, but added, "I don’t believe the [Academy of Magical Arts] is working as hard as they could be towards their stated goals of advancing the art of magic and supporting the #BlackLivesMatter movement."
The member asked to remain anonymous to protect their relationship with the Magic Castle.
The committee will develop ways to expand the diversity of the Magic Castle, according to the post, and to bring magic to underserved communities in the greater L.A. area. The board promised it will soon provide members with information about how to join the new committee. The Magic Castle did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The board also recently told members in a post that it's working with an outside law firm to investigate former employees' allegations of workplace misconduct. The board said the investigation is expected to take several weeks.