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President George W. Bush's tax plan would inadvertently be good for the arts, insiders say. As part of his plan to shift tax revenues to religious organizations, Bush wants to extend the charitable deduction to taxpayers who do not itemize deductions, some 85 million people. Overall, such a change could stimulate an additional $14.6 billion in charitable giving over the first year and by more than $80 billion over five years, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report commissioned by Independent Sector in Washington, D.C. Needless to say, under the scheme, art lovers - particularly low- and middle-income ones -- could write off their donations to museums and other art nonprofits.

Under the Bush plan, non-itemizers could deduct their charitable contributions up to an amount equivalent to the standard deduction (currently $7,200). Such a provision existed in the tax code from 1981 to 1986. Last year, a similar measure was co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 149 members of Congress. That bill, the Charitable Giving Tax Relief Act, would have given non-itemizers a deduction of 50 percent of contributions above $500, i.e., a $1,000 contribution would have netted a $250 charitable deduction. The Bush plan is estimated to cost $75 billion over 10 years, according to the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation.

More than 450 groups have endorsed the Bush proposal. Among art-world nonprofits, however, only the American Arts Alliance and the American Association of Museums made the list.

Chicago's embattled Terra Museum of American Art has hired Elizabeth Glassman as interim director. Glassman, who headed the Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation from 1990 to 1998, is undaunted by the controversy surrounding the museum, which also operates a facility in Giverny in France. "Organizations in the process of change are those that have the greatest potential for growth and development," she said at a press conference at the museum. Glassman replaces John Hallmark Neff, who left the Terra to head the Reynolda House, Museum of American Art in Winston-Salem, N.C.

The Terra has been floundering since the death several years ago of its founder, Reagan administration ambassador-at-large Daniel J. Terra. Last fall, two Terra trustees, Ronald Gidwitz and Dean Buntrock, filed suit to block what they said was a secret plan by other board members to move the museum to Washington, D.C. And according to Crain's Chicago Business Report, at the press conference, Terra Museum CEO Paul Tucker would not commit unequivocally to keeping the museum in the Windy City.

The School of Visual Arts Museum is presenting the work of an international group of seven recent BFA graduates from the school's fine art department in "Diversity Plus: Emerging Artists in a Rapid World," Feb. 5-Mar. 3, 2001. Curated by SVA chair of fine arts Jeanne Siegel, the exhibition features works by Jeronimo Elespe, Juan Gomez, Toland Grinnell, Evan Izer, Kiichiro Muto, Anna Sew Hoy and Banks Violette. The show is accompanied by a catalogue featuring not the usual art cant but rather poetic statements from the participants. The museum is located at 209 E. 23rd St.; call (212) 592-2010 for more information.

The Denver Art Museum is presenting ten outdoor sculptures by Joel Shapiro, one outside the museum itself and nine along Speer boulevard at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts complex, Feb. 13-April 30, 2001. The site-specific sculptures are divided into three themes: the figure, the tree and abstract stick structures.

MAX WEILER, 1910-2001
Max Weiler, 90, Austrian painter known for his colorful gestural abstractions, died in Vienna on Jan. 29. Weiler faced intense criticism in the 1940s for a series of realist frescoes of Jesus Christ's life for the Theresien Church in Innsbruck.

-- compiled by Giovanni Garcia-Fenech
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