• GeorgeMcCully

    With respect to all, I strongly disagree. It is not philanthropy’s job to pass judgement on the character, values, or lives of donors. To do so is antithetical as well to a free society. Philanthropy is probably the best money-laundry there is—we turn ill-gotten gains to productive and beneficial use to the public. I find the holier-than-thou argument to be inappropriately presumptuous.

    • MGoMusic

      Couldn’t agree more! Their money in our hands as donations is better than money in their pockets, right? Accepting a gift isn’t the same as a public endorsement. If we didn’t take gifts from individuals and organizations unless their records were squeaky clean, I don’t think I’d have a job.

      Besides, a lot of music organizations still perform works by people like Wagner, a known and published anti-Semite. If we can separate the art from the artist, I think we can separate the gift from the donor as well.

  • Jerry Metzker

    This is not a new conversation, but I have never heard a better argument than what was made to me years ago by an arts colleague while we were in graduate school: take the money. Use it and put the donors’ name on it to fight for what is right. Even arts organizations can do this (although I suspect that the reason donors like the Koch family choose opera and art museums is because the art is not immediately socially active. However, the recipient can be. Recently, Ms. Grace Slick approved the licensing of her song “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” to the virulently anti-gay company Chick-fil-A. She very publicly donated her royalties from the licensing to Lambda Legal, which fights for LGBTQ+ rights. Yep, this means that Chick-fil-A supports a LGBTQ+ organization that is using its own money to battle for human rights the organization opposes. An art museum could accept the donation and create a special “Save Our Planet” show with the anti-environmental donor’s name attached.

    There is always a possibility that donations would be offered with restrictions. Big donors sometimes use this as a tool to promote their own agenda. In this case, not following the restriction can be a legal matter. But the recipient can always take the high road and refuse the donation publicly.