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MACAY will close for good without funding, says leader

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The MACAY, the only contemporary art museum on the Yucatán Peninsula, could close for good this week. Photo: File

The MACAY is in imminent danger of closing for good, its management warns.

The southeast’s only contemporary art museum has suffered a series of budget cuts since 2016, and the pandemic has only pushed them further toward the edge, said its director, Rafael Pérez y Pérez. Restrictions under health contingencies have been reflected in the number of daily visits that went from between 500 and 800 visitors a day to an average of 200. 

The MACAY’s disappearance would leave a gaping hole, not only at the former colonial palace facing the main square but also in Mérida’s reputation as a world-class cultural capital.

Related: Remembering Fernando García Ponce 31 years after his death

The Fernando García Ponce Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Ateneo de Yucatán depends on government subsidies. Despite its prominent role in the world of art, its foundation has failed to receive three-quarters of its budget. Pérez y Pérez said its 16-million-peso annual budget is down to two million, hardly enough to carry a museum, pay its 12 employees and run its numerous programs for 22,000 children a year.

The 38,000-square-foot building contains 15 rooms for temporary exhibits, two galleries, and four rooms for permanent exhibits.

Fernando García Ponce’s drafting table appears as it did when he died in 1987. Photo: Macay

Originally a palace housing the archdiocese, the building was completed in 1579 by order of Fray Diego de Landa, Bishop of the province of Yucatán. It was separated from the Cathedral in 1916, during the Mexican Revolution, and began its life as a museum in 1993.

He proclaimed to the local media that culture is not a resource to be disregarded. Access to it is a human right established in Mexico’s constitutional article, he added.

If more resources are not allocated by Monday, and the foundation announces it’s well is dry, the MACAY will close.

“Everything depends on Monday,” he told Radio Yucatán.

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