This has been a telling few weeks for arts philanthropy in Las Vegas. Not only did the Contemporary Arts Center shake things up with plans to dissolve the financially broken 25-year-old arts organization, but Las Vegas’ Modern Contemporary Art Museum project raised only $13,240 of its $100,000 initial goal in an Indiegogo campaign that ended April 17 with only 43 funders.
The fact that deep-pocketed locals weren’t racing to transfer funds to either effort seems to be rooted more in the discerning nature of donors (and potential donors) than in an apathy for the arts. As CAC’s co-president of the board Michele Quinn stated, the high-end donors and foundations that she tried to rally weren’t willing (understandably) to give to a long-struggling organization on shaky ground.
But when it comes to the Modern Contemporary Art Museum, the problem may have begun with its name, which some criticize as a declaration of ignorance. But even more ambiguous is the programming mission. So far, the only mention of its exhibit plan is that the museum will be geared toward contemporary (and sometimes modern) art, which seems as vague as saying a new bar in town will play contemporary music. There has been no mention of case studies, artists of interest, example museums the Modern will draw from or focus groups—the sort of information the Smith Center for the Performing Arts made transparent before it even got its name. Those giving to the performing arts center project knew exactly what they were buying into and how it would affect their lives.
The CAC is back on track and overhauling its operations. With the Modern, there are still looming question marks.