what you should know

To make your preservation efforts a little easier, SPACES has developed lists of things you should do or be ready to do as well as other information you will need to preserve a site. They  get a lot of letters and telephone calls asking for our help in preserving a site, many at the 11th hour when “The bulldozers are at the other end of the block”. Even after 20 something years of trying we have found no magic way to do instant preservation. The following is an abridged set of questions that should be asked when preparing to save a site. We are of course available to answer your questions, to support your activities and help plan the glorious experience of saving an important bit of Americana.

 

You should be ready to answer these questions:

1.) Basics:

  • What’s the problem? — artist old, ill, dead, artist wants to sell property, no relatives, relatives
  • Who want to sell the property, area being developed… lack of local interest?
  • Description of the site (include condition & legal description)
  • Know all the players. Immediately develop a roster of media, art organizations, politicians, whose district the site is in, and others.

2.) Status of the Artist:

  • Has the artist expressed a desire to save the site, the works?
  • Does artist own the property?
  • Is the artist old, ill, or dead?
  • Is there a person responsible for the artist? (Name-relation-address)
  • Does the artist have any family, children, resources, or insurance? (In the case of poor health)
  • If not, who can you identify to look after him/her?
  • If the person is hospitalized or dies who can be responsible to look after him/her?

3.) Ownership of the Property:

  • Has the artist expressed a desire to save the site, or his/her works?
  • Does the artist own the property?
  • Does the artist want to sell the property?
  • If not who does?
  • Is there a will?
    • Will he/she/they transfer ownership to a non — profit, public entity, other, to accomplish preservation?
    • Will he/she/they change/write a legal document to that effect?
    •  If so, what restrictions are necessary — he/she/they want to live on site until death?
  • Are they willing to sell/rent it?
  • If so for how much?
  • Who can secure the property?
  • Are there no relatives, or do the relatives want to sell the property?
  • Is the area being developed?

4.) Description of the Site and the Artist’s Work:

  • Is this a physical place with art or is the place the piece?
  • What is the condition of the site?
  • Does saving the artifacts in situ enhance their artistic value?
  • Can the artifacts be moved, repaired, and/or restored?
  • Does it matter if they are moved?
  • Is there an inventory of artifacts and physical property or papers?
  • Who has other examples of the artists’ work?
  • Have they been purchased, loaned, donated or are they on consignment?

5.) Preservation Needs:

  • What is the local attitude toward the site?
  • Is there local interest in the artist, in the site?
  • What will it take to preserve the site/artifacts?
  • How long will it take?
  • How much will it cost?
  • How immediate is the need to preserve the site?
  • What are the major threats to preserving the site?
  • What will happen if it is saved on site/off site?
  • Is there a place to move it to? (college, museum, some other place in town)
    • Local interest carries more weight than outsider concerns.
    • Is there/will there be a person, group of people, organization willing to do all the above?
  • Could the site eventually serve as a tourist destination, and/or enhance the quality of the life of the community?
  • Is there/will there be a person, group of people, organization willing to do the above?
  • Can the artist or his/her family assist in preservation efforts?

6.) Written Documentation on the Site:

  • Is there any substantive documentation?
  • Is there a bibliography?
  • Is there a list of exhibitions or other notable events?
  • Where? Is it available?
  • Are there personal papers or a history of the artist and the site?

7.) Future Transfer of the Property:

  • Will he/she transfer ownership to a non-profit, public entity, other, to accomplish preservation?
  • Is there a will?
  • Will he/she change/write a legal document to that effect?
  • If so, what restrictions are necessary ?
    • Does he/she wants to live on site until death?
    • Will the transfer of ownership not be complete until that time?
    • Does the artist need some money now?

8.) Expenses and Funding:

  • Do you know of potential funding sources and volunteers at the local, state, or national levels?
  • Can the site be made self supporting?
  • What are the yearly taxes?
  • What other current expenses exist?
  • What are your local assets – businesses, places of culture, Chamber of Commerce / Tourism.