FUNDS WILL SUPPORT CHANGES NEEDED AS A RESULT OF THE COVID-19 HEALTH CRISIS
The Balboa Art Conservation Center (BACC) has received a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or CARES Act grant in the amount of $52,417. BACC, the region’s only art conservation center, is one of just 317 organizations to receive funding out of 2,333 eligible applications throughout the country. As well, it is the only organization in San Diego to be awarded this CARES Act grant. The funds awarded will support the development of innovative tools, practices, and procedures at BACC, namely cross-training art conservators and implementing a virtual pre-examination program for art objects so that staff can pivot to provide programming and services during the COVID-19 health pandemic.
Associate Conservator of Paper Sara Bisi cross-trains Assistant Conservator of Paintings Morgan Wylder on a float hinge technique and how to attach the hinge to the art and backboard of a piece.
BACC’s art conservators have highly specialized skill sets, having completed advanced degrees with concentrations in either painting or paper conservation. However, BACC discovered that cross-training these same conservators could ultimately strengthen the organization's ability to work during the economic downturn that has occurred due to the health crisis. Cross-training core staff will both develop and fine-tune the team’s capacity to respond to fluctuations in project workflow, and ensure that staff have work during this unpredictable time. Just as physical spaces are changing and expanding to accommodate new norms, so will the knowledge and skills of BACC’s core conservation staff.
A Virtual Pre-Examination Program is also being developed at BACC so that staff can continue to provide valuable conservation services for the art community while adhering to newly established safety protocols. With the redesigned program conservators will be able to produce condition assessments of objects by remotely guiding staff at collecting institutions through a specialized photography, reporting, and consultation process. As the regional lab for the West, BACC has always consulted on the condition of objects housed in distant locations. However, because of the ongoing pandemic, this practice will become more formalized and include upgraded equipment to ensure the best results for partners and clients.
Board President Karen Coutts said “BACC has a small, highly trained staff of conservators. With NEH CARES funds, our conservators will become more versatile in the work they can undertake.” Chief Conservator of Paintings Alexis Miller concurred, adding “The NEH CARES funding is critical to moving our work forward during this time. It allows us to creatively, quickly, and safely respond to the new challenges we are facing so that we can continue to provide the highest level art conservation to our community.”
Created in 1965, the NEH is an independent federal agency and one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the United States. It received supplemental funding in 2020 to provide emergency relief to institutions and organizations working in the humanities that have been affected by the novel coronavirus. In keeping with Congress's intent in enacting the CARES Act, the funding was earmarked for short-term projects that emphasize retaining or hiring humanities staff.
As a non-profit organization that protects and conserves cultural heritage, BACC relies on grants such as these and the ongoing support of other generous donors to support its many programs.
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About the Balboa Art Conservation Center
With more than 40 years of experience, the Balboa Art Conservation Center (BACC) is the region's premier art conservation facility, offering museum-quality conservation treatments, investigative technical imaging and analysis, and extensive preservation services for institutions and individuals. A nonprofit organization, BACC is located in the heart of Balboa Park.