“We Collect Garbage”
King Harris reflects on early corporate sponsorship and a particular exchange with the company Waste Management.
Sears was one of our early corporate givers, but on a very modest level. But still, they were a corporate giver. So I went to see a key officer at Sears and asked him for a gift for the MCA. And he looked up and he said, "You know, King, we'll give you money this year, but there's a condition." I said, "What's the condition?" "Please," he said, "don't let any of our officers go see your Vito Acconci show 'cause if you do, you'll never get another gift from us."
So much for Vito Acconci and corporate giving.
It does get worse than that. There was one incident where I went to solicit Waste Management, which at the time was a very well-thought-of Chicago company—one I had stock in, by the way, or our family did. So I saw a senior officer there, and I got a letter from him shortly thereafter that said, "Dear King, Waste Management and the MCA are in the same business. We collect garbage." Well, the good news is, by the way, that years later another officer of Waste Management did join our board, Hal Gershowitz did join our board and was a generous contributor. But in the early days it wasn't exactly as easy as it is today.