Tuesday (9/14) on the New York Observer online, Zachary Woolfe writes, “David Patrick Columbia, the author of the Web site New York Social Diary, was sitting where he often sits, at the front table at Swifty’s on the Upper East Side. He was talking about what makes the arts possible, the web of money, power and ambiguous motives that has for a long time successfully convinced the very rich that it’s their duty to donate large sums to support paintings on walls and people dancing and singing onstage. ‘I mean, look at Mrs. Astor at the Met and Mr. Kahn at the Met,’ the 69-year-old said, speaking of two of the Metropolitan Opera’s great Gilded Age patrons. ‘Two different people in terms of their interest in being there and what it meant to them.’ … But now, when even the rich find themselves prioritizing their spending, their motives may become a lot more important. Someone who is giving out of passion for the art form—Sybil Harrington, the Metropolitan Opera’s major patron of the ‘80s and ‘90s, comes to mind—may prove hardier than someone who’s in it for other reasons.”

Posted September 16, 2010