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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A tales of two attractions

There's an interesting -- and probably unintended -- juxtaposition of what makes for a successful cultural organization on today's Globe front page.

Read Matt Viser's look at what makes Providence's Roger Williams Zoo a worthy attraction over its two Boston competitors. Then read Geoff Edgers' look at how the Institute for Contemporary Art turned itself into a must-see attraction on the Boston waterfront.

The difference? The ICA learned what it takes to attract cash-paying visitors -- interesting exhibits and pleasant surroundings. They had a vision and implemented it, including a move from a conveniently located but cramped Back Bay police station to an avant garde if harder-to-reach waterfront showpiece that is as much a work of modern art as what is housed inside.

Zoo New England? Despite a good location and an attraction that is a potential license to print money among parents and school groups, it continues to struggle, trying to come up with yet another plan to "get it together."

Both groups also receive state funding through the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Both have had facilities needs addressed with public dollars.

So what's the difference? Leadership. The ICA went out an attracted a leader with a vision in Jill Medvedow. Zoo New England has futzed and scraped and come up with a "leader" who excels in issuing extortion threats to the governor.

Maybe Zoo New England needs someone who knows how to do more than write press releases demanding appropriations? That way we could actually keep the dollars in Massachusetts instead of exporting them to Rhode Island.

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Blogger Chris Rich said...

The thing to look for is patterns of GOP patrician nepotism in these large non profits.

Dem nepotism usually involves getting some relative a job at the moribund watertown trolley barn leaning on a shovel or counting quarters at the tunnels.

GOP nepotism seems to entail parking party hacks in non profits with grotesque salaries, Spaulding at the former Wang Center, Volpe at the BSO and maybe this hack at Zoo NE.

The ICA was probably too complex for your average patrician reprobate and it gets a lot of help from Mindich.

July 19, 2009 9:48 AM  
Anonymous MarkB said...

A good location? How is Stoneham a good location. And was the ICA trying to run two identical museums at the same time?

July 19, 2009 4:13 PM  
Anonymous بلياردو said...

The thing to look for is patterns of GOP patrician nepotism in these large non profits.


July 19, 2009 4:26 PM  
Blogger Readwriteblue said...

Gordon Carr May be the Hack you are looking for Rich.


But the best comparison would be between Zoo New England and Southwick's Zoo.

July 19, 2009 5:58 PM  

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