"An Eli Broad could never join our board," says one top arts executive, requesting anonymity.
But Broad hardly stands alone.
For many of the city's cultural leaders, the scariest arts-patron horror story in recent memory dates to 1988. That's when industrialist Armand Hammer, determined to maintain control over how his $250-million art collection would be displayed, tried to strong-arm LACMA into a detailed set of conditions. When that didn't work, Hammer (now dead) reneged on the long-planned donation and instead founded his own museum next to his company's office in Westwood.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday April 30, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 ..CF: Y 1 inches; 45 words Type of Material: Correction
Board membership -- An article in Sunday's Calendar incorrectly identified one of the boards on which Los Angeles Times Publisher John P. Puerner sits. He is a member of the board of the Music Center of Los Angeles County, not of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday May 04, 2003 Home Edition Sunday Calendar Part E Page 2 Calendar Desk 1 inches; 44 words Type of Material: Correction
Board membership -- An article last Sunday incorrectly identified one of the boards on which Los Angeles Times Publisher John P. Puerner sits. He is a member of the board of the Music Center of Los Angeles County, not of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Now affiliated with UCLA, the museum endures -- as does the challenge of dealing with patrons used to managing their own assets for their own ends. "That's the trend: Viewing philanthropy as an investment," says James Ferris, director of USC's Center for Philanthropy and Public Policy.
Indeed, says the Getty's Munitz, arts organizations are seeing fewer traditional patrons like Robert Erburu (former top executive of Times Mirror and chairman emeritus of the Getty board) and Robert O. Anderson (former chairman of Arco and a life trustee of LACMA). A new atmosphere has arrived with such new-world patrons as Ron Burkle (founder and managing partner of the investment firm the Yucaipa Companies; he sits on the LACMA board and joined the Getty board in 2001) and Haim Saban (founder of children's programming giant Saban Entertainment; he joined the University of California Board of Regents in 2002).
"These high-worth entrepreneurs are wonderful because they're so impatient with structure," says the Getty's Munitz. But that same impatience, he notes, changes things.
"These people," he says, "won't come to monthly meetings.... If we want the Broads and the Burkles and the Sabans and the [Michael] Eisners to be the heart and soul of governing nonprofit Los Angeles, we can't ask them to change," says Munitz. Instead, he says, the question is "how can we adjust our mechanism to earn their participation and support? I think it's a profound change for this city."
He's not the only one looking for a new way to harness these thinkers and their dollars. At the Los Angeles Philharmonic in late 2001, a governance committee led by chairman Hotchkis and board member Roger Zino created a new Philharmonic board of overseers, with just three meetings a year, each of them heavy on perks (lunch with Gehry, for instance).
The idea, says development director Laskin, is to coax and cultivate new prospects for the organization's main board, including "all those entrepreneurs who can't keep their ideas in their heads" -- but keep their watchdog responsibilities light, at least at first. In fact, the overseers do virtually no overseeing. So far, 98 overseers have joined up and committed to contributions of $10,000 yearly.
But before that generation of prospective directors and trustees steps up to the next level, there are plenty of thorny challenges to be faced by today's big boards. Besides replacing Davidson at CTG and opening Disney Hall, there are buildings to be rehabbed or replaced at Natural History and LACMA. At the Skirball, there's a newly created museum director position to be filled.
And as that work goes forward, the cost of being a board member "has got to keep going up. It's got to," says the Philharmonic's Hotchkis. "You've got to cover costs somehow."
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)
The more you pay, the greater your say
Museum of Contemporary Art
Managing partner, Tuttle-Click Automotive Group
Size of board: 34 voting members
Money: $16.6-million budget. About $88,000 in cash contributions per board member.
Challenge: Maintaining momentum despite a dreary financial climate that forced $3.1 million in cuts to this year's budget.
Los Angeles Opera
Marc I. Stern
President of asset managers,
the TCW Groups Inc.
Size of board: 60 voting members
Money: $36-million budget. About $100,000 in cash contributions per board member.
Challenge: Coping with diminished support from prime donor Alberto Vilar while sustaining artistic director Placido Domingo's costly ambitions.
Autry National Center of the American West
President of Gene Autry Group Publishing Co. and Flying A Pictures
Size of board: 12 voting directors, who also sit on an advisory 95-member board of trustees, both formed from merger of Autry Museum of Western Heritage and the Southwest Museum.
Money: Budgets of $13.8 million at Autry, $1.8 million at Southwest. At Autry, cash contributions of more than $22,500 per board member; at the Southwest, about $9,000 per board member.
Challenge: Merging the collections and cultures of the Autry and the Southwest; deciding future uses for the Southwest's site on Mt. Washington.
Music Center of Los Angeles County
Andrea L. Van De Kamp
Chairwoman, West Coast operations, Sotheby's auction house
Size of board: 75 voting members