SAN DIEGO, Calif. —April 14, 2023--Balboa Art Conservation Center (BACC), the only nonprofit regional conservation center in the western region, has received one million dollars from the Mellon Foundation, the nation’s largest supporter of the arts and humanities.
This funding will support BACC in its mission to become a radically sustainable and radically inclusive art conservation nonprofit as it reaches its 50th anniversary milestone in 2025. This will include investing in organizational infrastructure, inclusive programming staff, and expanding its service to include objects and preventive conservation, two areas that will ensure that its impact reaches a broader, more diverse audience. By expanding BACC’s capacity and creating leadership development opportunities among its staff, the impact of this funding goes beyond the organization and its service area, impacting the entire field of conservation. This funding only underscores the necessity and urgency to make art conservation knowledge and services accessible to all communities.
Mellon funding is also supporting a Radical Equity analysis to elevate the organization's HR process and protocol and ensure that BACC is practicing the same vision for equity and transformative healing externally as it is internally. These are just a few of the many goals BACC is committed to accomplishing with Mellon support.
BACC is committed to shifting the way regional conservation centers engage with collections and communities. Putting this vision into practice, BACC is undertaking various inclusive conservation programs and broadening the role of a regional conservation center by supporting training and education opportunities, partnering with stewards of community cultural collections, expanding its conservation knowledge base to include culturally conscious and responsive methods of care, and learning from and dialoguing with artists and caretakers of diverse cultural heritage and ancestral collections. Addressing a historic disinvestment in BIPOC communities by the field of conservation, BACC has initiated workforce development programs to introduce art conservation as a career to a more diverse audience in hopes of remedying what is one of the least diverse fields of the arts sector.
Leticia Gomez Franco, BACC’s Executive Director since 2020, reminds us that for BACC, inclusion is not a deliverable; it is a process. BACC fully intends to live in this moment to ensure the ongoing transformation is intentional, thoughtful, and impactful. “As a woman of color, a community organizer, and social justice advocate, leading BACC means practicing accountability for this organization, and for the field at large. The intentional institutional exclusion of our BIPOC communities from cultural preservation requires a reckoning. Support from the Mellon Foundation acknowledges and celebrates who BACC is unapologetically becoming. BACC is building the vision for what cultural preservation and art conservation can look like: inclusive, accessible, and radical.”
About Balboa Art Conservation Center
The Balboa Art Conservation Center (BACC) provides art conservation and cultural preservation services for cultural institutions and the general public. The San Diego-based nonprofit is one of only eight regional nonprofit art conservation organizations in the country and the only one in the western region. Founded in 1975, BACC provides art conservation and cultural preservation services to cultural institutions and the general public, focusing on the care of works of art, cultural objects, and historic artifacts, technical imaging, and analysis while also providing educational opportunities for emerging conservators. Learn more at bacc.org.
About Mellon Foundation
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is the nation’s largest supporter of the arts and humanities. Since 1969, the Foundation has been guided by its core belief that the humanities and arts are essential to human understanding. The Foundation believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity, and that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom that can be found there. Through our grants, we seek to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive. Learn more at mellon.org.
Image Description: Art Conservators performing surface cleaning on a painting in the Balboa Art Conservation Center's Paintings Conservation Lab. San Diego, CA
As one of the few nonprofit regional conservation centers in the United States, and the only such center in the western region, the Balboa Art Conservation Center is undergoing transformational change as it shifts into a radically inclusive and accessible art conservation organization. The BACC Board helps nourish this shift while ensuring the organization's vision for inclusion has long-term systemic impact.
The BACC Board of Trustees is led by Board President Dana Springs and boasts a board membership that is 50% BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color). In addition to its racial diversity, BACC board members are located throughout BACC’s service area, including Seattle, the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and San Diego. They bring a range and depth of expertise in community organizing, arts management and advocacy, fundraising, conservation, education, and financial management. Their diverse perspectives and skills are essential as BACC seeks to fulfill its vision for equity and healing within our own structure and workplace, as well as the communities we serve.
Throughout 2023, we are highlighting each of our Board Members to better understand what excites them about being a part of the BACC Team at this transformative time.
For our first Board Member highlight, we spoke with Dana Springs, Board President. Dana Springs (she/her/hers) is the Deputy Chief for Administration at the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program. Born and raised in Dana Point, Orange County, Dana has long been an active member of the arts and nonprofit communities of San Diego, holding a BA in visual arts from UCSD.
BACC: How does your professional, community, and/or cultural work inform your role as a BACC Board Member?
Dana: I have past experience managing an institutional art collection, in addition to my experience managing a nonprofit, so this is where my experience intersects. Grants management and finance management for nonprofits can be challenging. Knowing how to manage the various resources– human, financial, tangible assets, etc.- can be very difficult.
B: What excites you most about being on the BACC Board?
D: I am most excited by the vision and management style of our Executive Director, Leticia Gomez Franco. She is extraordinarily resourceful, imaginative, ambitious, and hopeful, which makes her exciting to collaborate with. She can see possibilities for the organization that no one has ever seen before and she has been able to attract resources to this organization beyond anyone’s imagination.
B: If you could have one artwork or artifact (personal or otherwise) conserved by the BACC team, what would it be and why?
D: BACC has actually conserved two pieces from my personal art collection in the past! I had an abstract painting on canvas that had been punctured, and the conservators mended it to look like nothing ever happened! Ever since they restored it, the painting has been on display in four different locations in San Diego.
bALBOA ART CONSERVATION CENTER ANNOUNCES THE APPOINTMENT OF ERIKA KATAYAMA, JOEL GARCIA, AND KAREN COUTTS TO THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES
The Balboa Art Conservation Center (BACC) has announced the appointment of three exceptional board members to its already stellar roster of leadership. As one of the few nonprofit regional conservation centers in the United States, and the only such center in the western region, the San Diego based nonprofit is poised for a phase of transformative change as it shifts into a radically inclusive and accessible art conservation organization. The BACC Board will help nourish this shift and ensure that the organization's vision for inclusion has long term systemic impact.
Erika Katayama is the Associate Director, Interpretation at Seattle Art Museum. With 20+ years of experience in multiple museum departments, she has worked at federal, state, and private institutions. Ms. Katayama is committed to access and inclusion within all areas of museums and is currently writing a book about issues of diversity (and the lack thereof) within exhibition design. Her previously held roles on the West Coast have included advisory committee membership for DEAI initiatives for the California Association of Museums, Sr. Director of Audience Engagement at the Museum of Us, and Director of Visual Learning at the Museum of Photographic Arts.
Joel Garcia (Huichol) is an Indigenous artist, cultural organizer, co-founder, and Director of Meztli Projects, an Indigenous-based arts & culture collaborative centering Indigeneity into the creative practice of Los Angeles. In various roles, he has worked with Indigenous communities across borders in support of issues of land, access, and self-determination. His work explores healing and reconciliation, as well as memory and place. He’s a current Stanton Fellow and former fellow of Monument Lab, and co-facilitator of the Intercultural Leadership Institute which proposes to hold space for cultural production outside of white supremacist frameworks.
Karen Coutts is the founder of KC Nonprofits, a consulting firm which helps advance the missions of San Diego’s nonprofits—with an emphasis on those focused on arts and culture. Since 2011 Karen has provided clients with fund development services, strategic planning, and high-level project management. Prior to her work as a consultant Karen was the Director of Development for The New Children’s Museum, where she completed a $30 million capital campaign and was part of the team that opened their new facility. She spent eight years in the development department of the San Diego Museum of Art overseeing corporate, foundation, government, and planned giving as well as membership.
Katayama, Garcia, and Coutts began their 3-year terms in January 2023. The BACC Board of Trustees is led by Board President Dana Springs, Deputy Chief for Administration, San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program, and boasts a board membership that is 50% BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color). In addition to its racial diversity, BACC board members are located throughout BACC’s service area, including Seattle, the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and San Diego. They bring a range and depth of expertise in community organizing, arts management and advocacy, conservation, education, and financial planning. Their diverse perspectives and skills are essential as BACC seeks to fulfill its vision for equity and healing within our own structure and workplace, as well as the communities we serve.
Throughout the remainder of 2023, we will be highlighting each of our Board Members to better understand what excites them about being a part of the BACC Team at this transformative time. Keep an eye on our socials and check back here to meet them all! Check out our Board’s bios here.
From the Bottom Up: Balboa Art Conservation Center Seeks to Develop a More Diverse Future for the Field
By Bianca Garcia, Leticia Gomez Franco, and Annabelle Camp, Balboa Art Conservation Center
(Text originally published in Volume 45 Number 1 of the Western Association for Art Conservation Newsletter)
In November 2022, The Mellon Foundation released their latest report on Art Museum Staff Demographics, and conservation was once again shown to be tied for the unfortunate title of “least diverse sector” in the museum field. At 80% White, the sector’s demographics match that of Museum Leadership and is similar to the demographics of museums’ collections departments at large which is 77% White (Sweeny et al. 2022). There are likely many factors contributing to this, including the barriers to conservation education and the general lack of awareness about conservation among the public. When considering potential careers, few students know conservation is a career path. This is especially true among communities whose cultural heritage has been underrepresented within cultural institutions and who have been excluded from arts and conservation access.
For people to understand and aspire to a career in conservation, they must first understand and feel comfortable with art. Viewed this way, lack of awareness about conservation among the public is closely tied to a systemic lack of arts education in this country. Overall, arts education in schools has seen a decrease in funding and attention throughout the United States. Total U.S. legislative funding for art education in FY2021 dropped 17.9% from that of FY2020, and this represents a 38.7% drop from FY2001 (Mullaney-Loss and Rhee, 2021). This, however, does not affect all schools equally. Schools with a larger percentage of non-white students, low-income, and English learners saw a significantly larger decrease in the time spent on arts education. Title I schools– a federal education program that supports low income students throughout the nation– "are less likely to provide quality arts academic resources for further study, i.e. college and career prep, and artistic rigor standards'' (Krudwig, 2021). How can students from across the demographic spectrum have the same opportunity to choose a career in conservation when they all have not had the same access to the arts? In addition to this, we have to address the perception that conservation is niche and exclusive.
To diversify the field of art conservation, we must make the field accessible to underrepresented communities. This has been recognized, and there is an ongoing effort in our field to do so. Some of the better known conservation diversity initiatives include...