Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

Banker “For the Arts”

 

Conceptual photo of Centro Botin located in Santander, on the northern coast of Spain. Click the picture to see more.

Conceptual photo of Centro Botin located in Santander, on the northern coast of Spain. Click the image to see more.

The New York Times recently published the story of a new $106 million contemporary art center that is to open next year in Santander, Spain funded by the family foundation of Emilio Botin III, the president of Spain’s leading bank. The Centro Botin, however artfully crafted, has caused a stir in the community. Locals are crying foul play proclaiming that this is nothing more than a “pyramid” to its “pharaoh,” using prime public real estate for a private foundation to boot. Botin and his foundation claim that the center will boost the city’s economy and provide cultural education, but is this just another tactic for a “big company” to continue to monopolize an area for profit?

Certainly the good that is coming from this is the spectacular center itself, but how do you feel about art being used as a pawn in the game of profit? Perhaps it is merely because the foundation has such power and notoriety that it is receiving criticism. Perhaps these truly are the “lemonade-heads” we discussed in class.

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One comment on “Banker “For the Arts”

  1. hshambroom
    August 27, 2014

    This type of criticism of arts spaces (in particularly those that are privately funded) always draws an interesting line – is the art’s value to the community greater than the costs and inconveniences associate with it’s construction. A similar debate happened just a couple years ago just outside DC – http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/2012/07/09/gJQAfWERZW_story.html .

    A comment from the article: “When we start allowing billionaires. . . to circumvent the law and the process to buy their way into what they want, I think there is a problem,” said Caroline Taylor of the Montgomery Countryside Alliance.”

    While this is a valid argument, it’s important to remember that these types of arts spaces, ones that are privately funded, offer many valuable opportunities for the community to have a totally new type of arts experience, as well as bringing attention to local known and unknown artists. In the case of the Botin it sounds like much of the collection was acquired from workshops they sponsored for artists, continuing a tradition of patronage which has funded the arts for years.

    I’m also intrigued by the consideration put into the architecture of the space and the way it will work with its existing surrounding landscape.

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