Bank of America offers monthly free museum admission as Grolsch cuts us off
Got a Bank of America credit, debit or ATM card? Through the bank’s Museums on Us program, BoA customers get free admission during the first full weekend of every month to the Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art (Saturdays only), Chicago History Museum and Shedd Aquarium. The next eligible weekend is February 6–7 and the museums have agreed to participate through September 4–5, 2010, with BoA promising to announce more dates this year.
Meanwhile, according to Newcity art editor Jason Foumberg, Grolsch announced last month that it's ended its extensive sponsorship of art events in Chicago, which began three years ago. Translation: no more free beer in those handy swing-top bottles at openings. While a representative from Dig Communications, the P.R. firm for Grolsch's U.S. importer MillerCoors, confirmed this by phone today, Grolsch brand manager Brian Schmitz told me via e-mail, "As a result of tightened budgets, we're in the process of evaluating several art sponsorships in Chicago and beyond, including the NEXT Fair, but we have not finalized those plans at this point. Grolsch is appreciative of the relationships we've developed in the art community, and we hope to be able to continue them in the future." He added that the Dutch brewer will continue supporting First Fridays at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Foumberg offers "Many thanks to Grolsch and [its U.S. importer] MillerCoors for three artful years," and suggests Grolsch's past "graciousness" was sorely needed during the recession, but I'm not drowning my sorrows. Grolsch wasn't being gracious; it was pursuing a marketing strategy that didn't pay off. (In Chicago, at least. MillerCoors's spokesperson told me Grolsch is maintaining a presence at the Miami art fairs and selected other U.S. events.) The beer had strings attached: During the past year, I lost count of how many show invitations I received that bore the embarrassing slogan "Creativity…sponsored by Grolsch." My colleagues and I have differing opinions about this, but instead of forgetting that corporations like Bank of America and perennial museum donor Target expect something in return for their largesse, the next time you go to an art opening, bring a fun flask.