Article by Steven Litt
Dealer Tire CEO and arts patron Scott Mueller brought the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland close to finishing a $35 million capital campaign with a $2 million gift announced Friday night at a MOCA fundraiser.
The $2 million must be matched dollar for dollar. If it is, MOCA will have completed the $35 million campaign that paid for its new building in University Circle, said Jill Snyder, the museum’s director.
The final $4 million in the campaign – the Mueller donation plus the match – will become part of a $5 million endowment fund the museum wants to create to provide annual operating income over the long haul, Snyder said.
“I’m thrilled,” she said of Mueller’s largesse. “It’s the ultimate reward from a dedicated patron who recognizes how important endowments are for long term sustainability.”
The $2 million donation from Mueller follows an earlier $2 million gift, making him the single largest donor to MOCA’s capital campaign, Snyder said.
Mueller is a co-chair of MOCA’s board of trustees and a vice chair of the board of the Cleveland Museum of Art, where he established a $1 million purchase fund for contemporary art.
MOCA Cleveland is not a collecting institution and does not compete in the art market with the Cleveland Museum of Art.
MOCA’s new building, designed by London architect Farshid Moussavi, opened in October 2012, and has been hailed internationally as an iconic showplace for art.
The building occupies the prow of the triangle formed by Mayfield Road and Euclid Avenue, where it anchors the western end of the $150 million-plus Uptown development.
Snyder said that MOCA raised enough to pay for its construction in cash, and that the museum has worked since 2012 to complete the endowment portion of its campaign.
“We opened the building debt free and now that we have realized our vision for the community, the goal is long-term sustainability,” she said.
MOCA funds about 15 percent of its $2.9 million annual operating budget through earned income including admissions and facility rentals. It raises the rest through its annual fundraising campaign.
If it drew the industry-standard of 5 percent from its $5 million endowment, the resulting $250,000 would take pressure off the annual campaign, Snyder said.
Mueller’s gift and the completion of the capital campaign “will ensure we have an endowment to sustain our operations in a healthy way,” she said.