AMOA Gets Big Green

That unusual sound you heard earlier in the week was the clink of a lot of cash -- I mean, a heap of green -- landing in the coffers of the Austin Museum of Art. As of Tuesday, AMOA was the recipient of $13,000,000 in pledges from five Dell Computers executives and their wives. The magnanimous donation -- one of the largest gifts, if not the largest, ever made to an area arts institution -- was given in support of the proposed permanent downtown facility for the museum. As has been noted in this space repeatedly, the museum has been working toward this downtown home for some 15 years, having had to suffer through blows dealt it by the economic bust of the Eighties and the arts wars of the Nineties. But the last few years have seen AMOA emerge from the fog of uncertainty around the project and make serious strides toward its eventual realization. Among these have been securing new land for the facility at Guadalupe and Third streets, establishing temporary galleries downtown, selecting a new architect (impressive New York designer Richard Gluckman), and, of course, a serious shoring up of financial support. With AMOA facing a $50 million price tag for the new facility ($35 million for the building and roughly $15 million for an operating endowment), it only made sense for the museum to court Dell, one of the few local corporations with deep pockets. Apparently, it did so effectively. Earlier this year, the museum secured a gift of $100,000 from the computer giant to underwrite the exhibition "O'Keeffe's New Mexico" and provide support for the museum's educational and scholarship programs. And now this. Teaming up to provide the $13,000,000 gift are company founder and current chairman and CEO Michael Dell and his wife Susan; vice chairman Mort Topfer and his wife Angela; vice chairman Kevin Rollins and his wife Debbie; and senior vice president for law and administration Tom Green and his wife Deborah; senior vice president and chief financial officer Tom Meredith and his wife Lynn. By the way, the unusual sound you heard just after the clink of all that coin was the sound of several thousand art lovers sighing in relief. Call 495-9224 for info.

Taggin' the Turtle

Speaking of money and arts facilities, this might be a good time to remind you that this Tuesday's ballot is the one containing proposals regarding the future of the Great Turtle of Auditorium Shores, as I like to think of our beloved Palmer Auditorium. (As they are the last two propositions listed, I wouldn't want you to get all tuckered out from voting in all those judicial races and give up before you get to 'em.) And as long as I'm mentioning it, it might be worth pointing out that, while the renovation of Palmer into a 21st-century performing arts center will ultimately require big money (like $50 million or so), this vote doesn't involve that. While other propositions on the ballot do involve bond money for cultural facilities (the Carver Museum and Mexican American Cultural Center), the Palmer propositions don't. Prop. 11 does involve upping the tax rate for rental cars as a way of paying for a public events facility to replace City Coliseum (thus providing a new home for the crafts shows, trade shows, and the like currently keeping Palmer busy) and for new multi-story parking facilities around Palmer, but the big issue for Palmer is giving the city an okay to lease the site to the group Arts*Center Stage, which will then raise $50 million in private funds for the renovation. Clear? Okay, go vote.

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More Articulations
The Harry Ransom Center has acquired all the professional and personal materials of profoundly influential acting teacher Stella Adler

Robert Faires, April 30, 2004

It's the end of an era for the city of Austin's Art in Public Places Program as Martha Peters, administrator of the program for 11 of its 18 years, departs to direct a public art program in Fort Worth.

Robert Faires, July 18, 2003


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