I wanted to follow up on the financial state of the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi. One year after its opening the Ohr was not generating enough revenue to cover its operating expenses. The O’Keefe Foundation voted to extend another $100,000.00 to the museum but that barely covers electricity for a year. What I learned from this second look at the Ohr was enlightening.
Museum officials planned to appear before the Biloxi City Council to request financial assistance; that appearance never materialized. Instead they sat for interviews with the New York Times. That makes sense. The Ohr is suffering for lack of paying guests. A Times interview could help to raise its national profile.
While wading through these stories, I browsed the comments to sample local opinion. Needless to say, the cultural divide we see on the national level thrives locally as well. There were instances of class warfare, “Building a Frank Geary [sic] design in Biloxi was casting pearls before swine. Listen to the pigs oink!” (Before you call anyone swine, learn to spell the architect’s name). And some ol’ fashioned victimization, “Just for your information, I am a Christian woman. I am not swine.” (He didn’t call you by name but you still took it personally.) And some Tea Party sentiments, “If the PRIVATE Ohr-O’Keefe museum can’t pay its way, then, like other businesses they should shut down. No taxpayer money should be used to support this. ” And on and on.
When John Edwards looked up from his mistress and said, “There are two Americas” he was more correct than he could have known. However, his scope wasn’t large enough; we’re divided by more than financial strata. (Yes, I used two elitist semicolons in one blog post – what are going to do about it?)