It appears that peace and love have broken out in the Roanoke arts community and it comes on the unexpected wings of the name "Taubman."
Since the opening of the Taubman Museum of Art nearly two years ago, other arts organizations have been quietly suffering (and not so quietly grumbling) about the negative impact of the big, flashy, expensive museum on other arts organizations. Some of them have been on the edge of being history and only through good management have they survived.
A $2.5 million gift from Nick and Jenny Taubman (pictured), benefactors of the museum that bears their name, and the recognition by them that the museum has had a negative impact on sister organizations is a wonderful unilateral gesture that could foster considerable groupthink (a good word here) in the future. There will be 20 grants over two years, ranging from $25,000 to $100,000 each. They'll go to programs within 20 miles of Roanoke. Those are not insignificant numbers in this economy and this sour arts climate.
I have been closely allied with several of these struggling arts organizations for years and I had never seen the atmosphere as clouded as it has been since the Taubman was built. The museum sucked so much of the arts money out of the government and private individuals that there were only crumbs left and everybody was hurt, including the Taubman.
There seems to be a new recognition that a healthy arts community is good for all organizations and if the Taubman is to thrive, then its fellow arts organizations must be healthy, as well. All of that bodes well for the economic development initiative that is the arts in general.
I'm really tickled about the Taubmans' gesture and hope it opens the dialogue fully between the Taubman administration and the officials of the other organizations. The words have been spoken across the board. Now comes the action.