To the editor:
Like many of you, I've loved my times at the Berkshire Museum, but frankly, I've let the place down. So have many of you who have taken the time to write letters to the editor, protest on its steps, and The Berkshire Eagle. You see, it's easy to write to protest, but it's a bit harder to take less time than it does to complain to simply pick up a pen and write a decently sized donation check to help save the art from auction.
In his weekly column, Alan Chartock talks about trying to keep everything on the air at WAMC. Well Alan, that can happen because there is a great amount of time and effort put into fundraising by you and those around you. It's the fundraisers and advertising that allow you the luxury of retaining the programming, and your contributors are johnny-on-the-spot with their donations. The museum's last fundraiser in 2009 still has money trickling in eight years later, and likely only due to the fact that the publicity surrounding the sale of the 40 pieces of art stirred the "did I ever send in that check?" memories for some.
There's an expression: "Put up, or shut up!" I'd say that that time has come for all of us with regard to the museum. If the protesters win, and the art is retained — and funds not raised — we'll succeed in closing the museum down the road, and everything will ultimately be auctioned off or left to rot. So, what do we do? We somehow manage to find 20 bucks a week for Dunkin' Donuts or Starbucks, but can't send $20 a month to our beloved museum. Yet, we can find the money to put together well-made placards for a protest on the museum's grounds. The equivalent cost of those materials should be donated to the museum instead.
Here's my suggestion: Suspend the sale of the art for six months. During that time, the Berkshire Museum will engage in a fundraiser. Everyone who has written a letter, including myself, is required to make a monetary pledge donation to be automatically withdrawn from a bank account or charged to a credit card on a monthly basis for five years. The Eagle, which has certainly gotten a lot of mileage and paper sales out of the story, should donate a full page to the fundraiser on a daily basis for six months. At the end of the time period, the total pledged amount will be released to the media by the museum. If by our actions instead of our words we've put the museum on sound financial footing, the art stays. If not, it goes to auction.
It's easy to protest, easy to complain, but it's long overdue that we speak with our checkbooks. That includes me.