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