November 15, 2012

Consultants’ advice (including mine) to the Corcoran Gallery of Art [“Corcoran’s board slow to create a new vision,” Sunday Arts, Nov. 4] takes me back to seventh grade, when I was pitching for the West Henrietta (N.Y.) Rotary Indians baseball team. At a tense moment, as I faced an ominously large hitter, my catcher made his way out to the mound, his ill-fitting equipment clacking all the way. He dramatically pulled back his mask and told me, “You need to throw a fastball at his knees and just over the inside corner.” He then pulled his mask back down and clattered back behind the plate as if he had solved my problem.

Of course I knew I needed to throw a fastball at the knees and just over the inside corner; the question was how on earth was I supposed to do it. Similarly, consultants noisily amble into the Corcoran and tell the board that it needs a compelling vision, a charismatic director, passionate and committed donors, and the management capacity to implement a sound strategic plan. We then return to our safe place and patiently wait for the perfect pitch to be delivered.

Somehow, I don’t think we’ve told Corcoran board chairman Harry F. Hopper III anything he did not already know.

Robert Sullivan, Washington

The writer is vice president of the Washington-based arts consulting firm Chora.

Much is written about saving the Corcoran, yet nothing is said [“Reinventing the Corcoran: Five experts’ advice,” Sunday Arts, Nov. 11]. The Corcoran’s board of trustees urgently needs to take three steps: Appoint a respected professional director; return to a commitment to the American Collection, contemporary American art and D.C. artists; and raise new funds in order to fulfill the wishes of founder W.W. Corcoran “to promote and encourage the American Genius.”

To do this, the Corcoran needs a new board that has less interest in making money and is “dedicated to art” — the words of the founder inscribed over the bronze entrance doors of the gallery.

Roy Slade, Clearwater, Fla.

The writer was director of the Corcoran Gallery of Art from 1972 to 1977.