Contrary to many other arts organizations during the epidemic, the American Folk Art Museum was able to avoid layoffs and other budget cuts in the last two years because of a combination of inventive fundraising efforts and increased donations from previous supporters.
(AP) NEW YORK — Through a combination of fundraisers and increasing donations, the American Folk Art Museum, unlike many other arts organizations, was able to avoid layoffs and other budget cuts in the two years after the pandemic.
To assist fund the museum’s exhibition program and its operation as one of the few free museums in New York City, Becky and Bob Alexander, who live in Arkansas, will donate $5 million to the institution on Tuesday, the museum’s largest and most unusual recent gift.
The American Folk Art Museum’s director and CEO positions will be renamed the Becky and Bob Alexander Director & CEO in recognition of the Alexanders’ contribution.
The Alexanders, longtime investors, and donors have contributed to the museum over the years, especially for the exhibitions “American Made” in 2016 and “Folk Art and Modernism” in 2015. Particularly in Arkansas, where Becky Alexander sat on the board of the Peel Museum and Bob Alexander held positions on the boards of the Walton Arts Center and the Historic Arkansas Museum in Little Rock, they have been ardent art collectors and supporters of the arts.
The museum’s director and CEO, Jason T. Busch, stated, “It’s extremely gratifying to see how people give back in such a way as individuals who have understood how they’ve benefited from an institution like ours.” “I want us to be an accessible resource for engagement. At the American Folk Art Museum, nobody has to pay anything. And even those who have the means to pay are affected by that.
who was able to pay
The Alexanders were the first donors to get in touch with Busch after COVID-19 broke out in New York and other cities in the spring of 2020 to give financial support to the museum, which had to close for five months due to the pandemic. The Folk Art Museum offers free entrance, but it also depends on donations from patrons and revenue from its gift store.
According to a Giving USA Foundation report, donations to arts and culture organizations decreased 7.5% in the pandemic year of 2020 as some donors diverted their funds to what they thought were more urgent causes. Donations to those organizations increased by 27.5% in 2021.
Busch claimed that the museum’s board of directors and he decided to avoid personnel layoffs early in the pandemic.
There was no doubt in his mind that he would return what he had taken to preserve his employees. “We punch considerably above our weight with an operational budget of $3.7 million annually. Every soul matters.
He claimed that in addition to increased contributions from the National Endowment for the Humanities and other organizations like The New York Community Trust and The Art Bridges Foundation, the museum also got financing from the government Paycheck Protection Program.
The Henry Luce Foundation awarded the museum with a $350,000 grant to present exhibitions in the Daniel Cowin Gallery through 2024 after discussions with the museum’s patrons and members about how to widen their audience and attract more visitors to their exhibits. The subsequent discussions centered on how contributors could assist the museum in maintaining the momentum from its 60th anniversary the previous year and its 30th anniversary in its Lincoln Square home in 2019.
The Alexanders decided to offer sustained assistance.
The Alexanders said in a statement that their longstanding passion for folk art has grown out of what started as an interest in advertising graphics and trade signage. The American Folk Art Museum is the best location in our opinion for presenting, studying, and celebrating the significance, brilliance, and breadth of folk art.
The Alexanders refused to respond to questions for this piece. Busch claimed that despite giving the museum one of its largest gifts in history—a $5 million gift—the couple, who prefer to stay out of the spotlight, weren’t interested in being recognized for it. Nevertheless, he claimed that they enjoyed the notion of owning the branding rights to his position.
It is unexpected, Busch said. “They stated, “This is essential to us because we want to do that if the museum can leverage our name, linked with your position, to greater financial gain and resources down the road. “
Of course, universities have traditionally utilized benefactors’ names in certain professor or department head positions to provide prestige and demonstrate dedication to the job being done. Other industries tend to name buildings or wings after contributors rather than positions, thus the practice isn’t as common there.
Busch believes that might alter. He expresses hope that the Alexanders’ generosity demonstrates their faith in the museum and its mission and expresses his happiness at having the opportunity to use their name in his title.
We’re talking about a couple who have been so charitable and who are based in the middle of the nation, not on the East Coast or in New York, he said. “It illustrates the influence our museum has on society at large. international as well. I want to see the museum there.
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