March 11, 2011

ARCA Alum Profile: Catching up with Emily Blyze, Class of 2009

Emily Blyze, ARCA Class 2009
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, Editor

Emily Blyze graduated from ARCA’s Master’s Program in Art Crime Studies in 2009. She completed her undergraduate work at Indiana University with an Art History major and a Communications and Business minor. After college, she worked for the Indianapolis Museum of Art in the Development department where she worked towards securing gifts for the Membership and Annual Fund programs. Currently, she works at The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. She manages all aspects of the Center’s Endowment Campaign including working with and managing key volunteers, execution of prospective donor strategies including interacting with high end donors, and developing proposals for philanthropic support.

We caught up with her recently to ask about her professional experience in fundraising and development. Although her job is not directly involved in studying art crime, she has been informally advising ARCA on seeking donors and supports to assist in spreading the word about art crime.
ARCA blog:     Emily, you were an art historian and a museum employee when you entered the Art Crime Studies program.  How much did you know about art crime when you began the program and did your perspective change?
Ms. Blyze: As an Art Historian, the saying "to the victor go the spoils", was always a caveat. But honestly, I had never thought of art crime in the context of a “crime” before the program. I took away a very different perspective of the actual repercussions of an art crime and its effects on those harmed. Art is a reflection of one’s culture - socially, politically, economically - and the fact that when a work is stolen, so is ones sense of who they are and what they represent. 
ARCA blog: I entered the ARCA program with an interest in museum theft then learned a lot about stolen antiquities, but left the program skeptical about the value of the secondary art market. Did you have the same concerns?

Ms. Blyze: Yes, I think that when dealing with the secondary market, the best way to approach it is "buyer be aware". Not all works are stolen, but as a buyer, you are at risk for enabling black market antiquities to continue to prosper if not taken with caution.

ARCA blog: How can a buyer know that the Raphael up for sale is really a Raphael? Or that it will still be one in 30 years and not just another painting by his master, Perugino? 
Ms. Blyze: As a responsible buyer, make sure the work you are buying has proper documentation and is purchased from a legit dealer and or an auction house. Involving a third party to do due diligence on the work is another action step to curb improper trafficking of stolen goods. 
With a high level name such as Raphael, ownership history or provenance should typically accompany the work. As a well-known and respected artist, Raphael had financially strong benefactors that would allow his work to be properly documented. That might help ease your conscience knowing that the work is truly by Raphael and not by the hand of his teacher, Perugino. However, over time there could be an important discovery depicting otherwise and you now become the proud owner of a Perugino. To me, that is still fantastic. 
ARCA blog: You work in the development end of nonprofit fundraising. What do you think organizations like ARCA can do to raise money to support research into crimes against art? 
Ms. Blyze: The concept of raising money can be a daunting and very overwhelming task. A great place to start is to create a money plan. Writing down financially realistic goals can help drive resources, such as time, staff, volunteers, etc. in the right direction. I am going to stick with Individual support at this time. To create this plan of attack, write down who your players are – identify your network. Code these individuals as either a prospective donor, volunteer, or link (someone to connect you to your prospective donor). From there, you will naturally start to form a pipeline. This pipeline will be a visual reference of who you can engage and cultivate for securing impactful, organizational changing gifts. 
There are plenty of other ways to raise money and I will use ARCA as an example. They have already taken several significant steps in securing gifts by establishing membership dues, tuition costs for the academic program, and honorariums for lectures. 
Ultimately, an organization needs to seek out others that have the same passion, cause and story to share as the institution and support will follow through financial and personal involvement.
Emily’s thesis, “Nazi-Era Provenance Research: Moral Responsibility has Established a Common Practice”, covered the conventions and policies that American museums have tried to adopt and institute in identifying Nazi-looted art and subsequent restitution. The ARCA blog will publish an article by Ms. Blyze on this topic this weekend.

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