The Brandeis Art Decision: A Field Day for Editorial Writers

In a post on this site earlier in the week, Bad Times Beget Bad Decisions, Gail Hyman wrote “Brand building and reputation burnishing are important responsibilities for every organization and their leadership.” A lesson every organization needs to keep in mind during bad times as well as good.

For even if the University were to backtrack on the Rose/artwork decisions, they have their work cut-out in regaining reputation – as the current, real financial needs of Brandeis have been lost in a continuing sideshow of their own making.

from The Forward:

Uprooting the Rose

The latest issue of the glossy magazine published by Brandeis University’s Office of the Arts includes a colorful, four-page spread about the goings-on at the Rose Art Museum — exhibitions, symposia, concerts and gallery tours with visiting artists. “The arts electrify the continuum of thought, experience, and action that makes Brandeis a global institution,” writes Daniel Terris, the university’s associate vice president for global affairs.

The magazine arrived on our desk just as the university was scrambling to contain the uproar caused by its surprising decision to close the museum and sell its more than 8,000 objects to make up for a dramatic drop in its endowment and a worsening financial future. The irony was unmistakable. One day, the Rose is considered a gem in Brandeis’s crown, a symbol of its educational sophistication and global aspirations. The next day, it’s headed for the auction block.

from The Boston Globe:

Why should we care about the arts?

Which brings us to a less-discussed aspect of Brandeis’s decision. I’m not a big fan of tribalism, but I’m as proud of the tradition that has produced so much art, and so much philanthropy that’s gone to supporting that art, as any other aspect of being Jewish. The knowledge that we aren’t complete human beings without art is as important as anything in the Torah.

That the president and the trustees of a Jewish-supported university have turned their back on that lesson and are planning to shut down the Rose should be as shocking as if they closed the Berlin Chapel (the Jewish house of worship on campus). These days, the arts need all the help they can get, and if they can’t get it at a university like Brandeis, maybe it’s time to throw in the towel for arts in America.