Given or Earned, Much is Still Expected

Many of this city’s and this country’s greatest buildings and institutions were created because of philanthropy from a segment of the über rich that acknowledged the responsibility that should accompany great wealth.  Museums, universities, the arts, and countless other strands of our cultural fabric were woven by matrons and patrons who decided that the country needs “X” and they had the means to provide it.

Charitable donations are even more dramatic during times of economic crises.  William Kellogg created the foundation that bears his name during the Depression.  Infamous gangster Al Capone founded a soup kitchen to feed the unemployed of Chicago in 1931 the same year that the Folger family founded their Shakespeare Theatre and Library.  Additional examples of philanthropy during economic turmoil can, and do, fill an entire website.

Given that history, I find it difficult to believe that there is no organization, no individual with the resources, desire, and foresight to rescue Screen on the Green which provided a National Movie Night in America’s Backyard aka the National Mall.  Where is the modern day robber baron who decides that they can survive with a little less cash this summer?  Where is that newly minted gazillionaire who made their fortunes during one of the largest expansions of wealth in this country’s history who will decide that surely they can do the city a solid and keep this institution going?

Adherence to the implied obligations of a social contract not a sufficiently convincing argument, then let me ask some business and pragmatic questions.

Where is the organization which understands the incredible public relations opportunity this presents?  Where is the executive who wants to play hero and reap the kind of publicity that would be worth ten times the amount paid for sponsorship?  Where is the organization that has a troubled relationship with the city and would be really smart to use this as down payment on the debt owed to its residents (given the nearly billion dollars worth of stadium and concessions paid?)  Where is the deep pocketed person who wishes to use this opportunity to tacitly promote their cause or product?

I know that our national and local leaders have larger and more important issues with which to grapple, but where is the Stateswo/man who wishes to use this moment to whisper in the ear of a constituent, or shout from a podium that this is service?  Where is the prominent figure who wishes to say that in the midst of a city that grows increasingly expensive (seemingly by the day,) that a free date night for the nation is a good and useful thing and providing it would be a balm for the collective and economically battered psyche?

Now is the time; this is the moment.  Where are you, wealthy Washingtonians?


Edited to Add: the Facebook Page for Save Screen on the Green


12 Responses to Given or Earned, Much is Still Expected

  1. Lazygal says:

    I forget quite where I read it, but there has concern over this I Got Mine generation of (as you put it) gagillionaires – they actually have classes in the ancient art of noblesse oblige!

    Particularly during this time of fiscal insecurity, their help and, well, obligation to others is needed, yet for the most part I don’t see it happening anywhere.

    Sad age we live in.

  2. Fearless says:

    Perhaps the Republican Party would like to consider this as an opportunity to polish its image.

  3. I hate when shit like that gets cut….. I hope you find your gazillionaire (or better yet, I hope you become one- then you can save it and still have change to spare!)

  4. Kristin says:

    I still can’t believe there will be no Screen on the Green. I wonder how much each of us, those of us complaining, could raise? I could stop paying for HBO and give those funds to Screen on the Green, right?

  5. LiLu says:

    I didn’t even get to go last year… I was really looking forward to some picnics with you and Foggy Dew. Sigh.

    If we can find a Washingtonian sugar daddy, I’ll do my part… 😉

  6. redhead says:

    I could use a free date night, myself…

    Here is a list compiled by a friend over at regarding outdoor movie festivals. I know it’s not the same as Screen on the Green, but maybe it’s a balm for the wound:

    2. Rosslyn Outdoor Film Festival
    May 1 – September 4, 2009
    Gateway Park
    Rosslyn, Virginia
    Every Friday at Dusk

    3. NoMa Summer Screen
    Wednesdays, June 10 – July 29, 2009
    L Street between 2nd and 3rd Streets, NE
    Washington, DC

    4. Bethesda Outdoor Movies-Stars on the Avenue
    July 28 – August 1, 2009
    Woodmont Triangle
    Bethesda, Maryland

    5. Alexandria Comcast Outdoor Film Festival
    2009 Dates to be Announced
    Ben Brenman Park
    5000 Duke St.
    Alexandria, Virginia

    6. Crystal Screen Outdoor Film Festival
    21 Weeks of Superheroes
    Mondays, May 4 – September 21, 2009
    18th and South Bell Streets
    Crystal City, Virginia

    7. Strathmore Comcast Outdoor Film Festival
    August 14-21, 2009
    The Music Center at Strathmore
    5301 Tuckerman Lane
    North Bethesda, Maryland

    8. Outdoor Movies on Rockville Town Square
    2009 Dates to be Announced
    Rockville Town Square
    Rockville, Maryland

    9. Montgomery County Agricultural Fair
    Family Night at the Movies
    August 14 – 22, 2009
    Montgomery County Fairgrounds
    16 Chestnut St.
    Gaithersburg, Maryland

    10. Columbia’s Lakefront Summer Festival Movies
    June 19 – September 19, 2009
    Columbia Town Center
    10320 Little Patuxent Pkwy.
    Columbia, Maryland

    11. Village at Shirlington Movies Under the Stars
    Wednesdays, 2009 Dates to be Announced
    Village at Shirlington
    2700 S Quincy St.
    Arlington, Virginia

  7. Shannon says:

    Monday nights in summer are all about getting to the Mall super-early, claiming blanket turf, and flagging down my friends one by one until it’s time for the HBO Dance. This is going to be a strange summer without Screen on the Green.

  8. Mb says:

    SAVE SCREEN ON THE GREEN!! Thanks for posting this. It seems like not enough DC residents (and metro residers alike) care about this.

  9. f.B says:

    I just don’t understand. I just don’t understand. Where am I supposed to go on those Monday nights, now?

  10. […] news spread that the sponsors of the annual summer tradition backed out there was a large outcry over the thought a weekday night on The Mall watching a movie. I was one of them- I never got the […]

  11. […] Screen on the Green was cancelled, I wrote this post questioning the existence of philanthropy and the moral bearings of the über wealthy.  Well SOG is back, and Richard Branson is doing a good turn too.  Virgin Festival is free this […]

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