Many interesting and poignant news articles have been published regarding leadership, fundraising efforts and the subsequent selling off of real estate by the Corcoran. Here, we have compiled those stories.

Advisory Committee Letter

Dear Save the Corcoran Advisory Committee Members,

It is hard to believe, but it has been a year.

One year ago, we as a community first stood together, united in our concern, confusion and outrage over the proposed sale of the historic Ernest Flagg building that houses our beloved Corcoran.

In that year, we have witnessed the power of a motivated and mobilized community.  We have seen the power of each and every one of you – and so many more – sharing your voice in the news, on social media, and face-to-face…and our voice was most certainly heard!  Save the Corcoran is incredibly proud of our accomplishments this past year, and that certainly includes all of your tireless contributions.  Thanks to your efforts, we know that the Corcoran will remain in its historic home.

Our mission, however, continues today.  In spite of our accomplishments, the Corcoran still faces an uncertain future. We want you to know that Save the Corcoran remains fully committed to demanding total transparency and proper stewardship over the institution’s future. And this includes ensuring that Corcoran leaders recognize that the community deserves a real voice moving forward. We pledge that we will continue our efforts to work with Corcoran leaders, with the D.C. government, with our legal team, with the media, and with each of you to keep this mission alive.  We simply believe that a whole and healthy Corcoran is most certainly worth that effort.

As we step into the next phase of our shared goal to Save the Corcoran, we look forward to working together with you.

Best regards,

The Save the Corcoran Coalition

Letter to the Corcoran Community, by Harry Hopper

Dear Corcoran Community,

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I take great pleasure in sharing with you the news of an integral group of decisions approved at the board meeting today. Together, these decisions move us forward dramatically toward a sustainable future for both the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Corcoran College of Art + Design.

1) We have approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Maryland. This document opens the way to develop a permanent partnership sought by both institutions.

2) We have completed an agreement of unprecedented scope with the National Gallery of Art, under which the Corcoran will exhibit works of modern and contemporary art from the National Gallery’s collection during the three-year period when the East Building is under renovation.

3) We have appointed museologist Peggy Loar as Consulting Director of the Corcoran. Ms. Loar brings exceptional skills and experience to this position, having served as director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Traveling Exhibition Series, the first program director of the Institute of Museum Services, the founding director of the Wolfsonian Museum and Research Center and, most recently, the director of the National Museum of Qatar.

Fred Bollerer, who has so ably steered this institution through a period of financial risk, and who graciously extended his contract with the Corcoran at the board’s request, twice deferring his planned retirement, has kindly agreed to assist the transition as Peggy Loar moves into her new role.

4) We have adopted a Strategic Framework for a New Corcoran. It calls for the Corcoran to:

- focus on Contemporary Art, American Art, and Design

- build on a recognized commitment to community engagement; and

- develop an ability to address the cultural, social, economic and political issues of our day.

Initiatives specified in the Strategic Framework include reviving the Corcoran Biennial; extending the impact of the College by partnering with a leading local university; and working more broadly and deeply with partners in the Washington area to bring contemporary art into political and social discussion and debate.

All of these developments come in the context of an upswing in fundraising. Having successfully reorganized our development office in autumn 2012, we have experienced renewed engagement from donors and patrons including members, young professionals of the 1869 Society, corporations, and Trustees.

For the last two years, the Corcoran Board has grappled with some very difficult tasks. We are incredibly thankful for the commitment of our alumni, and look forward to sharing an extraordinary future with you.

You can read more about the Corcoran’s future by clicking here.

 

Sincerely,

Harry Hopper

Chairman, Board of Trustees

 

On Wednesday, April 3rd, students protested and submitted this letter to the Board of Trustees

Declaration for Campaign of Action

To the Corcoran Board of Trustees,

We, The Students for Saving the Corcoran, begin our campaign of action today at the Corcoran College of Art + Design as we have been incredibly troubled by the constant problems the Corcoran has endured due to an irresponsible administration.  This action is in response to the lack of transparency and accountability that has plagued our college and museum for the past decade and now threatens the institution’s future stability and founding mission to encourage American Genius.

We have initiated this campaign because we believe you are leading the college down the wrong road.  Continuous poor decision-making by the Board of Trustees and leadership has contributed to a dire financial deficit for which no one has been held accountable.  The manner in which the Corcoran is being governed is deplorable and consequences must be faced for this blatant mismanagement.  Your actions have disrupted our creativity and environment for learning, as well as jeopardizing the futures and careers of hundreds of students.  You have left us with little choice than to bring your actions into public light.

We will continue our campaign until the following demands have been met:

1. The board of trustees must immediately implement structural changes with the goal of creating transparent and democratic decision-making process.

The administration’s gross mismanagement and cronyism warrants a new and different process than what has led the college into this crisis.  To end this pattern, we have outlined initiatives that the board must take:

- Record and document board meetings and make minutes publicly available;

- Appoint a student, a faculty member, a staff member and alumni as voting members of the Board of Trustees;

- Implement a board member removal process where board members may be removed by a majority vote from the Corcoran student body and Faculty Association.


2. Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Harry F. Hopper III and Director Fred Bollerer must resign immediately. 

- Under your tenure, the Corcoran has been set on a path to financial ruin.  Your lack of vision, accountability, credentials and integrity has shown you are no longer suitable for the positions you hold.    


3. Appoint Wayne Reynolds as Chairman of the Board of Trustees. 

- The appointment of Mr. Reynolds will allow the Corcoran to thrive once again without the aid of a partner.  It is our goal that the Corcoran remain independent until the institution is financially stable.  Mr. Reynolds’ vision will realign the institution with the original intentions of its founder, William Wilson Corcoran, as a place for creativity, world-class contemporary art and the encouragement of American genius.


Corcoran Community Meeting, March 29th

Dear Corcoran community and friends:

You surely are aware of the recent articles in the Washington Post about the Corcoran’s future and Wayne Reynolds’ hopes for it:

Washington Post article
Washington Post Editorial

Please join us for a Corcoran community meeting with Mr. Reynolds and learn about his vision for what the Corcoran could become and why he cares. We’ll have plenty of time for questions and answers and students will be speaking as well.

Find out about
- How he sees the Corcoran’s potential for the future and how he can help to make it happen.
- How he plans to utilize the Corcoran’s strengths.
- How he plans to engage the creative thinkers within the institution as well as all who care deeply about it.

Learn more about how he wants to work with you, and other members of the Corcoran community, and how you can help.

Come prepared with your questions. Every voice matters.

“Top of the Hay” at the Hay Adams Hotel (800 16th Street NW)

5:00 p.m.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Food and drink provided. Open bar.

If you care about the Corcoran, attend the Corcoran or work at the Corcoran, you should be at this meeting.

All are welcome but it would be helpful if you could RSVP so we know how much food to order to:

CorcoranMarch29meeting@gmail.com

STC Endorses Wayne Reynolds

Save The Corcoran Endorses Wayne Reynolds, former Chairman of Ford’s Theatre, as New Board Chair of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Corcoran College of Art + Design – Philanthropist brings ideas, quality, resources, and a credible track record in reinventing historic institutions.

Wayne Reynolds has a vision for a future Corcoran. His track record at Ford’s Theatre and other endeavors indicates that he can take on a struggling institution and create something thriving.  He believes in the Corcoran and has a desperately-needed vision to transform it into an innovative creative center dedicated to art and arts education.

Mr. Reynolds’ tenure as Chairman of Ford’s Theatre Society Board of Trustees has been widely acclaimed. He advocated for expanding the Society’s educational programming and transforming Ford’s Theatre into a center for learning dedicated to the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln. His vision resulted in the development of the Center for Education and Leadership and a campaign that turned Tenth Street into a campus where Lincoln’s legacy lives. He also established a $50 million endowment to support the institution into the future, and a thriving board of trustees.

Currently, Mr. Reynolds serves as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the American Academy of Achievement, one of America’s foremost motivation and recognition groups. Under his leadership, the Academy has expanded to include the Museum of the American Dream, Achievement Television Network and the annual International Achievement Summit, which brings together leaders and scholars to share their experience in diverse disciplines with graduate students from across the globe. More than 10,000 students have participated in the Academy’s Salute to Excellence program, and many have received scholarships through the Academy’s sponsorship.


Renewing a Sense of Urgency For the Corcoran’s Future

Our endorsement of Mr. Reynolds comes amidst a concerning period of perceived inaction by the Corcoran Board. In December 2012, after deliberation over a “futures process,” the Board announced it would not sell the historic Earnest Flagg building that houses the Corcoran. However, leaders have still failed to announce any plan for the future.

Corcoran leaders began meeting with Mr. Reynolds in December. Despite his clear qualifications and the Corcoran’s own promises for greater transparency in sharing a new course of action, leaders have once again stalled the process by cancelling its scheduled March board meeting.

“The time to act is now,” according to Terrance Shanahan, Corcoran member, STC leader, and local attorney. “We can no longer sit on the sidelines and let the current board meet in committees and subcommittees while the coffers drain and potential supporters dwindle. The Corcoran’s future starts now. And it starts with Wayne.”


Preserving a Legacy During a Time of Change

Recognizing that the Corcoran will and must transform under Mr. Reynold’s leadership, STC issues the following aspirations for any new leader of the institution:

•    The institution must continue to adhere to its fundamental values and retain its core identity as it moves forward, including a dedication to art and arts education.
•    As engraved on its building and central to its historic mission, the Corcoran’s educational initiatives and programs must be built around art.
•    A brain trust of experts–from within and without the institution–must be consulted before moving ahead with substantive change.
•    The Corcoran must maintain its fundamental commitments to educating students in a teacher-driven environment, educating the public through world-class museum exhibitions and public programs, and preserving the core of its historic collection of art.

It’s time for the Corcoran to say goodbye to the mistakes of the past and hello to the opportunities plentiful before it. It cannot do this by making irrevocable decisions that jeopardize its independence, or by waiting any longer for that future to begin. It should not decide to sell buildings or partner with local universities simply out of desperation. It must instead get healthy and choose strategic partners based on a bold mission and vision. To do otherwise would only represent further failures of leadership. Unfortunately, the current board has not yet articulated either. It’s time to move forward with the Corcoran’s future.

For further reading, please view David Montgomery’s article in the Washington Post: “Wayne Reynolds, former Ford’s Theatre chair, pitches to save Corcoran Gallery”

For questions or comments, please contact: Tom Murphy (202) 368-8571
or email:  savethecorcoran@gmail.com


About Save the Corcoran

Save the Corcoran is a non-profit organization comprised of a broad community of trustees, donors, artists, students, faculty, alumni and supporters, united to oppose the sale of the National Historic Landmark Building that has housed the Corcoran since 1897. Proposing a more open and honest dialogue about the institution’s future, the group is rooted in a sincere effort to collaborate with Corcoran leadership on a solution that will address the gallery’s needs while maintaining its historic home and identity.
www.SaveTheCorcoran.org

The Corcoran Must Reinvent

The Corcoran Gallery and School of Art and Design in Washington, D.C. does two things well: it displays art to the public and it educates artists and other creative thinkers about art and ideas. It tells us of our past while encouraging visions of the future.

Corcoran leaders must now commit themselves to the institution’s own future. They must commit themselves to reinventing with a bold vision for that future. And they must commit themselves to appointing the appropriate leaders to take on this task.


A Teachable Moment for a Learning Institution

No matter what challenges it has faced in the past, the Corcoran has consistently and steadfastly presented exhibitions to educate students and the public. Thanks to the dedication of its staff and faculty and the vision of its founder, there is much to be proud of about the Corcoran. Recent issues, however, have made it evident that the Corcoran must transform and adapt, to become a honed and compelling institution – something real and needed in an evolving society.

We have learned through the near selling of the cherished Ernest Flagg building that houses both the school and the museum, that it is expensive to run and maintain an historic building. We have learned that it can be challenging to maintain a unique identity in a city as rich in culture as Washington, D.C.  And we have learned that the failures of poor leadership can hamper the good will of the community.

But we have also learned that the communitiy still passionately loves the Corcoran and the building that houses it. We have learned that of all of the Corcoran’s challenges, none of them is insurmountable.  And now, our leaders must also learn that to reinvent means to embrace a larger vision.


Defining the Role of the Museum in the 21st Century

Today, art is not limited to objects on the wall, it is about the ideas that inform them. Art is what happens when ideas are exchanged and shared and put forth into the world. Art asks questions to solve problems.

Building upon existing programs, exhibitions, and curriculum, the Corcoran should merge into one institution that builds upon its legacy and embraces the essence of the art idea to embrace what is needed now. Through a blending of the goals of the college and museum, the Corcoran will become a leader of creative inquiry, educating students and the broader community about pressing social issues. Guided by its legacy of nearly 150 years and its breathatking collection of thousands of masterworks, it will continue to be a keeper of American culture from which we can learn.

This inspired museum – a center of the arts ecosystem – could regain its independence and flourish as a risk-taking, innovative, yet deeply-rooted America institution. As one of the few private museums in a city full of federally-funded institutions slowed by bureaucracy, the Corcoran is uniquely positoned to embrace difficult topics and, if presented well, afford transformation and understanding. Through the merging of education and art, we have a chance to rebuild the Corcoran into a shining light of creativity.


Preserving Our Past While Leading the Future

It’s time for the Corcoran to say goodbye to the mistakes of the past and hello to the opportunities plentiful before it. It cannot do this by making irrevocable decisions that jeopardize its independence. It should not decide to sell buildings or partner with local universities simply out of desperation. It must instead get healthy and choose strategic partners based on a bold mission and vision. To do otherwise would only represent further failures of leadership.  Unfortunately, they have not yet articulated either.

The solutions to remain an independent institution of Washington exist. Corcoran leaders must only be brave enough to implement them.

 

 

Corcoran Gallery of Art to Remain in Historic Washington Home

STATEMENT FROM SAVE THE CORCORAN IN RESPONSE TO THE CORCORAN’S DECISION TO STAY IN THE HISTORIC FLAGG BUILDING

Save the Corcoran, a community coalition of Corcoran alumni, current and former faculty, members, arts leaders, artists, educators, and business professionals who care deeply about the fate of the institution, issues the following statement today:

Save the Corcoran is extremely pleased to learn that Corcoran leaders have voted to keep the museum in the historic Flagg Building that has housed the Corcoran since 1897.  Read the full article here.  We applaud Corcoran leaders for listening to the D.C. arts community’s grave concerns about the proposed sale of the building and relocation of the museum, and we commend them for honoring their commitment to keeping all options on the table with regard to finding sustainable solutions.

Moving forward, Save the Corcoran urges Corcoran leaders to extend that commitment to the community.  Corcoran leadership will face several critically important decisions over the next several months about the future of this great institution.  It is equally important that leaders commit to standing with the community as those decisions are made, communicating transparently and in the spirit of collaboration.

Save the Corcoran will be happy to work with the Trustees to make the Corcoran whole and healthy again, and we are honored to have been invited to meet with them next week.  As part of that effort, Save the Corcoran recommends the immediate reconstitution of leadership with a progressive, innovative vision that will leverage the resources the institution needs for long-term health and sustainability.  It would be our pleasure to lend our time and talents to such an effort.

As Save the Corcoran has stated throughout this crisis, the power of any cultural institution is in the community that supports it.  The Corcoran community is ready and waiting to work together and support you.


About Save the Corcoran

Save the Corcoran is a non-profit organization comprised of a broad community of donors, artists, students, faculty, alumni and supporters, united to oppose the sale of the National Historic Landmark Building that has housed the Corcoran since 1897.  Proposing a more open and honest dialogue about the institution’s future, the group is rooted in a sincere effort to collaborate with Corcoran leadership on a solution that will address the gallery’s needs while maintaining its historic home and identity. www.SaveTheCorcoran.org

 

 

Crisis at the Corcoran

Save the Corcoran encourages everyone to take a moment to read the investigative feature in this month’s Washingtonian Magazine, entitled, “Crisis at the Corcoran.”  This article was the result of five months of reporting, and provides a gripping and in-depth account of the ongoing controversy taking place over the future of the Corcoran Gallery of Art.

Read the full article here.

STC community meeting on Tuesday, November 13th

This meeting is to “roll up our sleeves,” and gather feedback from the community on what the Corcoran needs for its future.

On the agenda:
The Flagg Building/The Gallery
The Collection
The School
Fundraising/Capital Campaign
Corcoran Gallery Foundation
Board of Trustees

Corcoran staff, faculty, students, alumni, members, donors, and Corcoran lovers near and far are invited. Please come. And invite friends who believe in this institution and its future.

Location: Goethe-Institut Washington, DC
812 7th Street NW, Washington, District of Columbia 20001

Date:  November 13, 2012 at 6:30 pm

Statement from Save The Corcoran in Response to Recent Corcoran Announcements

Save the Corcoran, is a community coalition of Corcoran alumni, current and former faculty, members, arts leaders, artists, educators, and business professionals who care deeply about the fate of the institution.  Save the Corcoran issues the following statement today:

Save the Corcoran remains concerned about the leadership’s lack of transparency. We urge the Board of Trustees and administration to embrace the community, including the contingent of Corcoran supporters who have challenged decisions and expressed an interest in collaborating on a path moving forward.

As leadership continues to release conflicting messages and inconsistent claims, Save the Corcoran fears that the Board of Trustees is jeopardizing the institution’s credibility, public trust and long-term financial picture.

Specifically, last week’s Washington Post article has alarmed the community for several reasons:

The timeline in this article indicates that not only did the Corcoran initiate site visits nearly a year before publicly disclosing a plan to explore the sale of the Corcoran’s historic home, but that staff did so without formal Board approval.

Although the Board of Trustees voted to approve assessing the value of the building in June of 2012, according to the article’s timeline, Board Chairman Harry Hopper and other senior Corcoran staff had already begun discussions with the City of Alexandria as early as Summer of 2011.

Considering a move outside of the District violates the Corcoran’s founding charter.  Save the Corcoran is concerned that the time and energy spent on seeking incentives in Alexandria, and other places, over the past 16 months has detracted from developing a focused strategy and fundraising plan for the future.

Furthermore, Save the Corcoran presents several follow-up questions to Corcoran leadership in response to its recent announcement that the Corcoran Gallery of Art and College of Art + Design are in conversation with both the National Gallery of Art and George Washington University.

  1. What is the nature of these discussions?
  2. Are you considering selling the building to the National Gallery? If so, what concern has been given to the collection?
  3. Is the Board exploring a merger with George Washington University? If so, how does this affect student and alumni degrees? And the collection?

The ongoing lack of strategy and a solid plan has created a renewed urgency in the community to know what is unfolding behind closed doors. To this end, Save the Corcoran is working with a team of fundraising experts and an influential Advisory Council, calling for Corcoran leadership to be receptive to and embrace their help.

Save the Corcoran asks Corcoran leadership to take the sale of the building off of the table and work with the community to reconstitute leadership with a progressive, innovative vision that will leverage the resources the institution needs for long-term health and sustainabilty.

 

About Save the Corcoran

Save the Corcoran is a non-profit organization comprised of a broad community of donors, artists, students, faculty, alumni and supporters, united to oppose the sale of the National Historic Landmark Building that has housed the Corcoran since 1897.  Proposing a more open and honest dialogue about the institution’s future, the group is rooted in a sincere effort to collaborate with Corcoran leadership on a solution that will address the gallery’s needs while maintaining its historic home and identity. www.SaveTheCorcoran.org