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Doug Clark: MAC needs a lesson in greasing commission

The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture has turned to the Spokane County Commission for help, which should tell you just how leaky things are over at our poor, budget-strapped MAC.

Asking the county commissioners for anything connected to the arts is like asking Larry the Cable Guy to critique a Monet exhibit.

Need I remind you that these are the philistines who thought investing public money in a toxic racetrack was a great idea?

Well, two out of the three, anyway.

Basically, the MAC is hoping to get some financial support from the Public Facilities District, which operates the INB Performing Arts Center and the Spokane Convention Center. Getting the thumbs up from County Commissioners Todd Mielke, Mark Richard and Al French would go a long way toward making that plan happen.

Now, I’m for anything that keeps the MAC alive and vibrant.

I love museums. In fact, when I was in New York last year I logged serious time inside the Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art.

Speaking of the MoMA, I was there in time to see this highly publicized exhibit that featured young, attractive and completely naked models standing stock still in a large, art-filled room, maintaining various poses.

That was impressive. Usually you have to drive all the way to the Déjà Vu to witness culture on this level.

But getting back to the MAC’s financial difficulties …

It didn’t seem from our news story on the matter that our commissioners were all that interested. Oh, sure, they promised Ron Rector, the museum’s executive director, that they would talk to state legislators and such.

But I know the drill. It was essentially the same vague, passive-aggressive baloney I get every time I hit up my editor for a merit raise.

Rector obviously doesn’t have a clue as to how to win commissioners’ hearts.

If only he had asked for my help. I would have gladly handled the negotiations.

CLARK – “Hello, commissioners. Thanks for finding time to see me.”

MIELKE – “You’re always welcome here, Doug. What’s up?”

CLARK – “Well, the nice folks over at the MAC …”

RICHARD – “The what?”

CLARK – “The museum? In Browne’s Addition? The building with all the paintings and stuff?”

RICHARD – “Oh. Well. Thanks, Doug. But we have a pretty full schedule today, and …”

CLARK – “The MAC people just wanted me to tell you about this exciting new exhibit they’re planning. It’s called “NASCAR Through the Ages” and …”

MIELKE – “Say, what?”

CLARK – “You heard me. It’s all about NASCAR. There’s going to be real race cars and historic memorabilia like the used filter from Richard Petty’s first oil change. Oh, yeah. And we’re hoping to have a visit from none other than Dale Earnhardt Jr.”

RICHARD and MIELKE (gasping in unison) – “JUUU-NIOR!?!”

CLARK – “Yep. In the flesh. Of course, this is all in the planning stage. You’ve probably read how Olympia bailed on the museum. We’re desperately trying to come up with new ways to keep the doors open.”

MIELKE – “Why, we can’t let something as trivial as money prevent the youth of Spokane County from experiencing the cultural wonder of NASCAR.”

CLARK – “My museum friends were hoping you commissioners would use your influence to speak favorably to the Public Facilities District. You know, about the MAC receiving some local tax dollars to make up for our lack of state support.

RICHARD – “Consider it done! But before you go, let us give you a little something to take back to the museum.”

MIELKE – Al! Wake up! Go get the county checkbook. Now, Doug, how much do you need?”

CLARK – “Oh, commissioners. You’re too kind.”

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at