New Chapter for Salinas Arts
Mayor Dennis Donohue hustles to attract literary museum.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
The American Writers Foundation wants to build a museum and is looking for a host city. Salinas Mayor Dennis Donohue wants Salinas to be it.
Donohue says the process is still “very, very preliminary… I think there is going to be a lot of interest in this project. We have a strong literary tradition. It’s about Salinas being a city of letters.”
Malcolm O’Hagan, the president of the Washington, D.C.-based foundation, says the project is still “in the concept stage.”
In the next two months, the organization will map out a business plan. As of now, it doesn’t have an official bid process for cities.
Donohue approached O’Hagan first, and they met six weeks ago. The foundation is “pleased” by Salinas’ interest, and the two parties have been in “informal discussion,” O’Hagan says, adding that Salinas’ strong ties to John Steinbeck work in its favor.
“Certainly [Salinas] is a big literary center already, and Steinbeck is one of my favorite authors,” he says. “Ideally, [the museum] would have a large population base and be a destination location with a literary tradition.” Other possible locations include Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, Chicago and San Francisco.
O’Hagan and Donohue agree that financing the museum is a major issue.
“[Funding] would probably take place outside of City Hall,” Donohue says. “There would have to be a strong private interest for this to happen.”
“Maybe a major philanthropist might take interest. It could be a city, but that seems unlikely in this economy,” O’Hagan says.
“There’s nothing like this already in existence. There are lots of tributes to individual authors, but not to the entire literary tradition of a country.”