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CURRENT COLUMN

Visual Artists as Entrepreneurs and Marketers
September 2013
Visual Artists as Entrepreneurs and Marketers

Audain Art Museum
June 2013
Siting an Art Museum in a Forest

Gordon Smith Gallery
November 2012
Boosting the Profile of Artists for Kids

Equinox
September 2012
From glacial meltwater to contemporary art

Morris & Helen Belkin Gallery
June 2012
Professional curators of contemporary art were once as scarce as hen's teeth

Equinox Gallery
April 2012
Gallery owners have their eye on East Vancouver

Equinox Gallery
February 2012
Gallery owners have their eye on East Vancouver

Jacana Gallery
November 2011
Nothing is certain but death and taxes

Satellite Gallery
September 2011
Hope springs eternal


June 2011
The Hotel Waldorf
reimagined


April 2011
Education for the eye,
soul and mind


February 2011
Fine art inkjet prints
are here to stay


November 2010
SAAG endows the old
with new possibilities

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Gallery Views

By ANN ROSENBERG

New Market Tax Credits help U.S. cultural institutions become property owners

Since 2000, the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland is one of the U.S. non-profit groups to have qualified for assistance from the NMTC Program. This tax credit scheme is philosophically similar to the bonused amenities system that contributes to the financial well-being of Vancouver's Contemporary Art Gallery, but is very different in the way that funds are allocated and applied.

The new Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland

As with the Contemporary Art Gallery (see previous column), this well-respected craft venue had a significant history prior to its recent move to the DeSoto Project (in the North Park Blocks) located between the Pearl District and the Old Town-Chinatown area of Portland. The various incarnations of the museum served the crafts community since first opening as the Oregon Ceramic Studio in 1937 with WPA support in the historic Lair Hill area.

Portland arts patron and developer Jim Winkler was instrumental in realizing a way to greatly improve the museum's amenities and profile. Winkler knew that the Daisy Kingdom building in the DeSoto Project was eligible for placement on the 1976 National Register of Historic Places, thereby ensuring federal funding for renovations and up-grading. But, perhaps more importantly, he was certain that the museum itself would be eligible for funding through the NMTC program designed to provide financial assistance to a range of non-profit organizations dedicated to revitalizing communities, through planned ownership of condominium units in structures such as the DeSoto Building.

By the time the project was ready to open, the museum was sharing the DeSoto space with Charles Hartman Fine Art, Blue Sky Gallery (photography), Augen Gallery, Froelick Gallery, and other business ventures which had benefited from the NMTC program. The huge street party on 22 July celebrating the Project's completion, was an enormous success and proved that Winkler's vision for community enhancement, and for concentration of cultural amenities, had happened 'big time'. In its new location, the two-level Museum of Contemporary Craft has a store-front profile on a busy shopping street. The 4,500 square foot space can accommodate a shop, changing exhibits, an interactive educational program, and an expanding permanent collection of Pacific Northwest contemporary craft.

How does Vancouver's bonused amenities approach compare with the NMTC program? A non-profit cultural entity such as the Contemporary Art Gallery has the benefit of a rent-free, purpose-built space, for 20 years through a specific contract between the city and a developer, in exchange for granting the developer, for example, the right to build beyond restrictions for a particular zoning. The gallery will never own the space and must amass an endowment fund to cover the rental costs when the subsidized period has ended. The Portland Museum, on the other hand, received $2.5 million in tax credits as a “cash” infusion for payment towards the mortgage registered against their DeSoto space.

Ann Rosenberg is a freelance curator, critic and author.

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