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 Post subject: "Think of the things you could do with that money. . .
PostPosted: Sat Feb 03, 2001 7:47 am 
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Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
On Ballet Alert, Ed Waffle said:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><I>Decisions must also be made in corporate boardrooms and offices—perhaps even Phillip Morris will not be immune,which would be a real problem for a many organizations.</I><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><BR>I normally try very hard to keep my BBS affiliations separate, but BA doesn't have a "Management" forum and CD does, so I'm starting this topic here.<P>My question is this:<P>I certainly understand the need to get funding from whatever sources are available, but <I>should</I> a dance company accept tobacco money? If so, where does one draw the line? If it were available, would we accept money from the American Nazi Party? The KKK? (I'm not comparing Big Tobacco to those organizations; I cite them as extreme examples. The very asking of the question implies that Phillip Morris is not as bad as the organizations I mention. Put the knives away.)<P>Personally, every time I see tobacco underwriting, the two words that go through my mind are not "Phillip Morris", but "blood money".<P>------------------<BR>Jeffrey E. Salzberg, Lighting Designer<BR>This Day in Arts History: <A HREF="http://www.suncoast.quik.com/salzberg/arthist.htm" TARGET=_blank>http://www.suncoast.quik.com/salzberg/arthist.htm</A><BR>Online portfolio: <A HREF="http://www.suncoast.quik.com/salzberg" TARGET=_blank>http://www.suncoast.quik.com/salzberg</A> <P><BR>

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 Post subject: Re: "Think of the things you could do with that money. . .
PostPosted: Sat Feb 03, 2001 8:57 am 
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A very interesting topic, but I'm out the door now, so will have to return at another time.<P>But briefly, I have just written a long essay on German dance in the 20s and 30s. To my surprise, unlike the painters, the leading German dance artists stayed on and worked with the Nazis. Rudolf Laban, the theorist leader of the movement accepted the most senior dance post under Goebbels in order to pursue his vision for German dance.<P>After the Berlin Olympics in 1936, which nearly all the German choreographers were involved in, there was a change of stance by Goebbels and Laban was thrown out. Supping with the devil can often end in tears. <P>Dance ecompanies have to be sharply health conscious these days to protect their performers and themselves. I fail to see how that can be compatible with taking tobacco money.


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 Post subject: Re: "Think of the things you could do with that money. . .
PostPosted: Sat Feb 03, 2001 6:56 pm 
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I chose the name for this thread because I think it sums up the ethical question neatly. It's from <I>Jesus Christ, Superstar</I>:<P>"Think of the things you could do with that money.<BR>Choose any charity, give to the poor.<BR>We've noted your motives, we've noted your reasons.<BR>This isn't blood money; it's a fee, nothing more."

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 Post subject: Re: "Think of the things you could do with that money. . .
PostPosted: Sat Feb 03, 2001 8:09 pm 
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Well, my friend, this is indeed an interesting question. "Jesus Christ Superstar" is one of my favorite musicals - I have the tape. There is a fine fugue in there - lots of great music, dancing, visuals and thought provoking lyrics.<P>Keeping in mind that though I am an ardent non-smoker - it is a legal product. It is a product that I would dearly love to see disappear - but it is still legal. And people do make choices.<P> However, just for the sake of playing devil's advocate we could extend that argument to should a dance company take a contribution from the NRA? or Smith and Wesseon? or a company selling alcohol? (I have seen advertisements in dance company programs and brochures from alcohol companies. Nureyev doing an ad for a vodka company, comes to mind). How about Firestone Tires? or any companies that pollute like oil companies? or companies in the garment industry that often hire workers abroad and pay them an unfairly low wage? In California right now an argument could be made against the electric and gas companies gauging their customers - should their contributions be turned away too?<P>Just asking.........<P>


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 Post subject: Re: "Think of the things you could do with that money. . .
PostPosted: Sun Feb 04, 2001 3:10 am 
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That's exactly my point, Basheva; should we take money from companies we believe are evil (it's an ethical question, not a legal one, so the fact that their activities are lawful is irrelevant) knowing that the reason they're giving the money is to attempt to resusitate their image -- and further knowing that by accepting the meney, we are abetting them in that goal?<P>

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 Post subject: Re: "Think of the things you could do with that money. . .
PostPosted: Sun Feb 04, 2001 6:05 am 
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Again playing devil's advocate:<P>Evil could be subjective; just as what is art could be subjective. An oil company that provides fuel to heat homes is essential and how much they pollute and how much of that pollution is avoidable can be argued by good and well-meaning people. <P>Some people would not want to take government money either if they felt that the government was evil - or at least not acting in a way that people would like (I am not talking about obvious evil like Hitler here). If a government begins to subsidize a guerilla action somewhere - should a dance company then refuse a government subsidy? <P>Car companies that make what turns out to be a harmful car - should they be refused? Drug companies that are thought to overcharge for their products are another possibility. Or a drug company that conducted what turns out to be a harmful drug study. <P>I think that what might begin to emerge is that when one starts to eliminate sources of money that might be "tainted" in some fashion, in some opinions, it doesn't leave that many sources left.


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 Post subject: Re: "Think of the things you could do with that money. . .
PostPosted: Sun Feb 04, 2001 6:34 am 
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<sigh><P>Yes, I know it's subjective. That's why I referred to companies that "we believe" to be evil-- in other words, companies that in our subjective opinion are evil.<P>Let's not get bogged down in a debate over what is and is not evil; the basic question remains, "Should we accept money from organizations -- <I>whichever organizations those happen to be</I> -- that <B>we believe</B> to be evil?"<p>[This message has been edited by salzberg (edited February 04, 2001).]

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 Post subject: Re: "Think of the things you could do with that money. . .
PostPosted: Sun Feb 04, 2001 10:58 am 
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Martin Niemoller wrote:<P> "In Germany, first they came for the Communists, and I did not speak up because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak up because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak up because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Catholics and I did not speak up because I was not a Catholic. Then they came for me, and by that time, there was no one left to speak up."<P>At a certain point, you have to decide when to speak up, even if it means sacrificing something you treasure - i.e. the betterment of the art you love.


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 Post subject: Re: "Think of the things you could do with that money. . .
PostPosted: Sun Feb 04, 2001 1:51 pm 
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I am very familiar with that quote Wordfox - they came for my family in Germany - and Czeckoslavkia - and Romania - all were killed.<P>But, this is a good discussion......if we do not take money from the tobacco companies, shall we take money from the farmers who grow it? Of from the workers who work for those companies and want to give privately to the arts? or from the truck drivers who haul it? or the stores that sell it? All these people chose to make a profit and/or living from the sale of tobacco.<P>The government takes money from the tobacco companies in the form of taxes and fines. Since government also gives money to the arts does this mean that the money is also tainted?<P>If a CEO from a tobacco company wishes to give to a ballet company shall we take it? or if a clerk in the company wants to give it - shall we take it? <P>"Blood money" can come from many sources - it would be interesting to start a thread naming those companies and entities from which it would be ok to take money. Seriously. <P>


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 Post subject: Re: "Think of the things you could do with that money. . .
PostPosted: Sun Feb 04, 2001 3:41 pm 
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By taking money from a corporate an arts organisation is allowing that entity to be associated positively with its activities. To some extent they are endorsing or giving credibility to the product. <P>For example, Rambert are sponsored by a furniture maker at the moment and had corporate entertainment at Sadler's Wells for at least one evening on the last run. There were lots of posters for the product. This causes me no problems. <P>But i think it is right that any group should consider who it is taking money from. Whilst it remains legal, the tobacco industry is now in the dock for a variety of reasons:<P>- the health damage to millions of users<BR>- the suppression of reports about this damage<BR>- the current switching of their business to the third world where the health risks are not well known.<P>For a dance company, where health issues should be to the fore, I do not believe that taking tobacco company sponsorship is acceptable. <P>For corporate funding in general, it has to be a case by case decision. My old company NatWest was a major donor to the World Wildlife Fund. At one stage they were told by WWF that they woud have to have a full environmental audit within 3 years, otherwise WWF would have to refuse future donations. I think this was entirely fair and NatWest complied. Things were already moving that way in the Bank, but perhaps the WWF decision acted as a spur to the organisation.<P>Oil companies are an interesting example. Shell has totally revised its company stance on environmental and ethical issues over the past few years, to the extent that they are a world leader in this respect. Some others have much more controversial policies. I can understand that an arts organisation might accept some and reject others. <P>Employees of problematic companies is another matter as they are giving as individuals. However at the top of the organisation where for instance the CEO is well known, it may be impossible to separate the individual from the company and a donation might well be refused. I can imagine circumstances where a company may choose not to accept donations from other individuals - those who have been closely associated with organised crime are an example.<P>As with most things in life there will be clear cut examples and then grey areas, where a Board must use its judgement. In an age where corporates are no longer standing back from ethical issues, i think it entirely appropriate that arts organisations pursue similar goals, using their judgement on the difficult borderline cases.<P> <P>


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