Thank you very much for featuring the conversation between Jesse Rosen and Metropolitan Museum of Art CEO Daniel H. Weiss (“Arena or Sanctuary: The New Roles of Public Institutions”) in the Spring 2020 issue of Symphony magazine. I was particularly interested to read Mr. Weiss’s thoughts regarding, as he says, “who should pay for culture,” and the difficulties of parsing out whether to “accept gifts from people who might have objectionable behaviors.”
While the conversation touched on many revelatory points, it did not specifically mention endowments. Since endowments command enormous sums of money, institutions should carefully consider where these funds are invested—not only from the standpoint of whether the investments will return a healthy income. Do the investments align with the mission of the organization? Will they positively impact the community the organization serves? As many orchestras deepen their commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion in the coming weeks and months, will they adapt their endowments to reflect their developing values?
It is imperative in this time of great change for any non-profit to carefully consider their endowment investments. Imagine the impact of an endowment invested in racial justice, clean energy, and gender equality! (On the flip side, imagine the impact of an endowment invested in the status quo of systemic racial oppression, big oil, and male privilege.) The endowment is a key component to answering the question “who should pay for culture?”
Immense thanks to you and the entire League for your ongoing work and advocacy for American orchestras, especially now!
Main Series Artist Coordinator,
Chicago Symphony Orchestra