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January, 2010

Poetry VC

A $100 million donation to a poetry magazine raises questions about the best way to support the arts.
No real comment on this one, just think it's sort of interesting. Apparently an heir to the Lilly fortune (drug company) gave $100 million to a magazine called Poetry. As Slate points out, this might not have been the best way to support poetry (lowercase "p"):
Poetry, which had a staff of four, an annual budget of $600,000, and a circulation of approximately 12,000, is suddenly among the best-endowed cultural institutions in the world. (The Guggenheim Foundation's assets are $219 million.) There's little evidence that Parisi will be adept at managing large sums of money or the publishing house he reportedly plans to start; and yet the Lilly bequest means the sun will never set on Poetry's empire.
The article goes on to suggest a few other ways the money could have been better spent, mostly grants and the like. Not sure those ideas are great either, but I can't disagree that most anything would be better than giving the whole sum to one publication. Mostly, though, I found the article's title interesting: "Ruth Lilly's venture capital for poets." What the article comes up with is much less venture capital than the way non-profit grants are divvied out at the moment. Since there isn't really any money in poetry, I imagine it would be quite difficult to "invest" in poets with hope of returns, but it's fun to try to figure out how a program like that might work.
January 1, 2010
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