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VOICES / A FORUM FOR COMMUNITY ISSUES | Gripe

A Visit to LACMA Costs Too Much

May 13, 2000|DON SOMMESE | Don Sommese is an artist

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is a wonderful museum and I am truly grateful for this resource. All the finest painters are represented. The only problem is that even though it is supported by county funds, it has become a victim of gentrification. It used to be affordable for a person to be able to go to the museum once a week. Now the price ranges from $7 to $12 a ticket, with a ticket for a special showing costing as much as $20. The average family just cannot afford this.

The museum hierarchy is not very sympathetic. They offer a free day--every second Tuesday of the month. This is one day per month for a county of almost 10 million people. And how likely are you to remember that it is actually the right Tuesday of the month? How often will you have that day off?Clearly there is a need to give Angelenos more options when it comes to enjoying the museum they help pay for.

I certainly do not want to diminish the recent improvements made at the museum. True, it is the wealthy people who devote their money, energy and time so we can all have a top notch museum experience. What they may not realize is that, slowly but surely, they are creating a place that is only for the elite. The prices at the museum restaurants are prohibitive for many of us; they border on price-gouging. Yes, provide a place for fine dining, but also give the average guy an affordable place to eat as well.In many world-class cities, corporate funding provides free days to the public. I was told by a senior member of the museum's staff that LACMA has tried in vain to get corporate funding for this. Is this possible in one of the richest cities on the planet? Aren't there any corporations in this city that will underwrite museum admissions one day per week so that all people have access to the art they pay $15 million a year to support? Or is LACMA just not trying hard enough?

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