The Metroploitan Washington of Trade called local business leaders together yesterday to plan a new organization that would tie tighter the links between corporate and cultural institutions.
The projected arts agency would presumably work in concert with the new Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington. It would seek out new funds - both locally and nationally - and would furnish management expertise.
"There are some groups that don't even keep books," said Burton Birdgens, who heads the project. He said he hopes for a membership of about 50.
In the past sixyears corporate arts donations are estimated to have doubled nationally, to $221 million, by the New York based Business Committee for the Arts. The Business Committee's president, Goldwin A. McLean acknowledged to the Washington leaders yesterday that this city is "a special case" because it has few big privately owned businesses whose philanthorpy is tax deductible.
While acknowleging this handicap Edwin K. Hoffman, president of Woodward & Lothrop, argued that corporate lobbyist here can be powerful advocates for giving to the arts in Washington. "And it's not just for the big national showcase like the Kennedy Center and the Smithsonian. Look at th successess of Wolf Trap and Ford's Theater in this respect. You just have to walk in and sell yourself."
Such business community-based group would stimulate such salesmanship. Hoffman belives, and also facilitate local fund-raising "on a plannedbasis, not by accident."