Conflict Kitchen, open for business: Last Friday, the operators of Conflict Kitchen, a local restaurant that serves cuisine from countries with which the United States is in conflict, made a troubling announcement: “We have received a letter today containing death threats and we will be closed until the credibility of the letter can be established by the Pittsburgh Police.” The threats came after recent scrutiny by media outlets such as Fox News, Breitbart, and the Washington Free Beacon, which characterized the eatery as “anti-Israel.” Additionally, in a letter sent to the Heinz Endowments on October 31, Israel advocacy organization B’nai B’rith International expressed “dismay and deep concern” about Conflict Kitchen’s current programming, citing a $50,000 grant the Endowments awarded to the eatery to aid its relocation from East Liberty to its current location in Oakland’s Schenley Plaza. Prior to Conflict Kitchen’s closure last Friday, co-founders Jon Rubin and Dawn Weleski responded to the recent press in a blog post: “The real story on our Palestinian version is that it is the most popular iteration to date, with 300–400 people a day coming to the restaurant. Our public is approaching us with trust, support, and open minds.” Conflict Kitchen reopens today.
A windfall for the collector, not the artist: “In 1973, a team of documentary filmmakers was following art maven Robert Scull for a movie called America’s Pop Collector. Years before, he’d bought a painting from the artist Robert Rauschenberg for $900, and it was being auctioned at Christies for $85,000—a windfall for the collector, not the artist. The film crew captured a legendary moment when Scull greeted the artist Robert Rauschenberg—who scolded Scull for profiting off of his artwork.” Rauschenberg later spent years unsuccessfully lobbying congress to get royalties for artists when their works are sold on the secondary market. According to NPR, however, change might be on the horizon. There’s currently a bill in Congress called A.R.T. (American Royalties Too) which would mandate that 5% of every auction sale go to the artists or their descendants, with a cap of $700,000.
Detroit Institute of Arts saved by a “grand bargain”: According to Brian Boucher over at Art in America: “The collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts has been rescued by a so-called “grand bargain” approved by bankruptcy court judge Steven W. Rhodes. The arrangement will allow the city to shed $7 billion of its nearly $15 billion debt and pour approximately $1.7 billion into city services such as new fire trucks and modern computer systems. As part of the deal reached by the city and its creditors, Detroit relinquishes ownership of the museum and its collection, turning them over to the nonprofit organization that currently runs the museum.
Community is not a commodity: Nina Simon over at Museum 2.0 responds to a recent Wall Street Journal article that was somewhat critical of the ways in which museums engage with the community. In her post, Simon writes: “Community is not a commodity. We don’t involve people in content development to ‘boost ticket sales.’ It’s neither ‘quick’ nor ‘inexpensive’ to mount exhibitions that include diverse community stories. Yes, community involvement is at the heart of our shifted, successful business model. But that business model requires experienced staff who know how to empower people, facilitate meaningful participation, respond to community issues and interests, and ignite learning. It’s not cheap. It’s not easy. It’s the work we feel driven to do to build a museum that is of and for our community.”
Telling the story of a museum: Walker Art Center is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. To mark the milestone, they’ve launched the Walker People’s Archive (WPA), “a crowd-sourced compendium of Walker history from the ground up, where visitors can see what others have to share and submit their own photos.”
Instant public photo archive: The Metropolitan Museum of Art is providing free access to 400,000 digital images for download and use for non-commercial purposes. The initiative, called Open Access for Scholarly Content, “provides access to images of art in its collection that the Museum believes to be in the public domain and free of other known restrictions.”
Innovative technologies for nonprofits: At the end of October, The Forbes Funds announced a multi-million investment fund that will establish a program to assist in the development and adoption of innovative technologies for the nonprofit sector.