Letter: On museum, state rep. fails leadership test
Dear state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier:
I am disappointed at the stand you took supporting the sale of the 40 works of art to fund the new vision at the Berkshire Museum. And I am angry about your divisive tone and shallow understanding that squandered an opportunity for true leadership.
You only repeated the sound bites that have been pushed by the museum, addressing none of the real and crucial questions that have been raised by so many from within this local community and from the community of museums across the nation.
Obviously you care about the local community. You should also care that the museum's plans have alarmed professionals state- and nation-wide. The destabilizing effect of the deaccession on all other museums will ricochet back onto our museum and community.
It has been amply demonstrated that the museum's finances are not as dire as the museum portrayed them. Even if you believe that the other analyses are only "opinions," the sources are credible and need to be acknowledged. Failing this manufactured emergency, there is no good reason not to pause the sale. Better solutions can be found, ones that incorporate the basic intent of the new vision — to serve the community well in the world of the future from a place of financial solvency — AND save the art.
That you and others continue to promote the sale as the only way to re-envision the museum demonstrates a severe lack of vision. It makes me and many other people suspect that there is something deeper and more troubling amiss. What could possibly explain the museum's and our leaders' stubborn refusal to engage?
It is unforgivable for leaders like you to avoid the work of embracing all constituents and the risk of calling for solutions that respond to the whole community. You have already noticed and felt the pain of the great divide between us, the citizens. You called for civility, but blamed the lack of it on Save the Art supporters, as though our mere objection was unwelcome and divisive, while completely ignoring the mean, puerile, damaging invective spewed by many art sale supporters and encouraged by "likes" from museum board members and other prominent Pittsfielders.
And now we have the recent op-ed by Phil Coleman that likened the people in Save the Art to the southern racists who hide behind "heritage" to conceal their racism. How about coming out against those inflammatory insinuations?
Many of us are troubled and concerned about that aspect of things as well as the museum sale itself. You are in position to really make a difference here, not by being for or against the sale, or moralistic about people's rage and frustration, but by opening the way toward a solution that we all can live with. What steps do you think are necessary to create a future that brings honor, prosperity, and peace to the museum and the community?
The writer is an artist and writer, active in the Berkshire arts community for nearly 30 years.
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