Arts Desk

Corcoran to Hold Two Community Meetings in August

The Corcoran Gallery of Art announced today that it will hold two more community meetings to address its future and a few other critical issues facing the gallery and college. The first "listening session," scheduled for Aug. 2 at 7 p.m., will discuss gallery matters; the second, on Aug. 23 at 7 p.m., will focus on the College of Art and Design.

After news broke in early June that the gallery was strapped for cash and considering selling its iconic building on 17th Street NW, it scheduled a public meeting to discuss its fiscal uncertainty. About 100 people attended that session, during which Corcoran's Vice President of Public Education Sarah Durkee, Vice President of Communications Mimi Carter, Corcoran President Fred Bollerer, and senior curator Paul Roth revealed that the Corcoran had spent about $1.5 million on consultants in an attempt to resolve how the gallery could recover from its ongoing identity crisis, which is at the root of its deep financial problems.

Last weekend, the Washington Post published an exhaustive account of the Corcoran's crises over the years, the most devastating of which were the scandal that followed its decision to spike a major Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit in 1989, and the 2005 failure of a wing designed by Frank Gehry. Those two episodes had a particularly punitive impact on major gifts and membership.

Now, the Corcoran is trying to avoid another public-relations meltdown by inviting members of the public to rap with higher-ups about the gallery's options. According to a press release sent this afternoon, the Aug. 2 session will be "focused around listening to the broader Corcoran community." A panel of local art figures—including Transformer's Victoria Reis, performance artist Holly Bass, and former Corcoran faculty member Bill Dunlap—will be in the house, along with Chief Curator Philip Brookman and moderator Mark Swartz, who's the director of development communications. Topics will include "integration of the Gallery and College, the Corcoran’s identity, and a sustainable model for the future."

Both meetings will be free, open to the public, and streamed online. Register for the Aug. 2 session here.

Details about the Aug. 23 meeting are forthcoming.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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