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March 01, 2011

In the Arts: GM Resurrects Culture Grants, Mexican Billionaire Opens Museum

The General Motors Foundation has resumed giving money to arts institutions in the Detroit metropolitan area after ending such grants in 2008 amid chaos in the auto industry, the Detroit Free Press says.

Now returned to profitability, the company recently made grants to the Michigan Opera Theatre, Mosaic Youth Theatre, and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

GM had given about $1-million annually to local arts groups before the recession. The drastic decline in support from all three major Detroit automakers was a key factor in pushing several culture groups to the brink of financial ruin.

In other arts news:

● Carlos Slim, the world’s richest man, will open his new Soumaya Museum in Mexico City with a sneak preview today, according to Bloomberg.

The $34-million museum, set to open to the public March 28, will be fully underwritten by the Mexican telecommunications billionaire’s foundation and will not charge admission. It will feature items from Mr. Slim’s 66,000-piece collection, which includes works by Diego Rivera, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Auguste Rodin.

The museum represents Mr. Slim’s largest cultural gift but he said health and education remain the main focus of his philanthropy.

● An anonymous donor has made a $10-million challenge grant to Dallas’s planned Perot Museum of Nature & Science, Dallas Business Journal writes.

Museum officials said the dollar-for-dollar matching gift moves the museum a key step closer to hitting a $185-million target by the end of the year. The institution, now under construction and scheduled to open in early 2013, has raised $153-million so far.