Earlier this month, the comment-o-sphere erupted after news broke that Detroit was contemplating selling off the collection of its beloved art institute to help the city emerge from bankruptcy. Now, Philadelphia is entertaining a similar gambit to help bolster its shoddy school finances.
The School District of Philadelphia has approximately 1,125 paintings [some by greats like Thomas Eakins] photos, sculptures and other pieces that are scattered throughout city schools and an undisclosed storage facility…School district officials are now thinking about selling the pieces. They asked companies this summer to bid on a contract to appraise and auction the art, a move that has largely flown under the radar.
Though the collection was valued at $30 million a decade ago, Newsworks reports, the school puts that figure down to $2 million today. The school is currently facing a $300 million budget deficit; Even if anyone trusted the district to pay that all into arts programs (rather than paying down its massive debt, for instance) $2 million seems like a drop in the bucket. That said, sad as it may seem to sell off fine art for a relative pittance, much of the collection in question has been hidden from view for the past decade, after former schools chief Paul Vallas sent it away for appraisal. If the art truly never finds its way back into the classroom, perhaps it’s better than some good comes of it. [Newsworks]