Milestones, Winter 1996
On May 23, 1996, WMF president Bonnie Burnham presented the first thirty-four World Monuments Watch grants at a special dinner in New York. This followed the announcement in March of the World Monuments Fund List of IOO Most Endangered Sites, a first-ever 'endangered species list' of imperiled cultural-heritage sites. Dr. Marilyn Perry, WMF's chairman, welcomed the distinguished gathering of diplomats and site nominators from twenty-five Countries, as well as major WMF donors.
"Virtually every type of situation imaginable is identified through the List of IOO Most Endangered Sites," noted the Hon, Cyrus R, Vancecochairman, with H. E. Javier Perez de Cuellar, of the program's International Committee of Honor. Harvey Golub, chairman and chief executive officer of American Express Company, observed that the company's mission "cannot grow or continue to be the force it is today unless it recognizes and safeguards its most important assets. Unlike some of tourism's assets, monuments and historic sites cannot be replaced."
Sixteen countries received a total of $I million in American Express Award grants. At the May gathering Burnham also announced eleven grants from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation-totaling $281,000- ~nd $130,000 in grants from other donors. Since the dinner, support for the program has continued to expand. In addition to new project grants, WMF has received a generous commitment of $100,000 from the Lita Annenberg Hazen Trust to sponsor the creation of a World Monuments Watch Web-Site. Donors continue to commit funds for projects on the current World Monuments Fund List, with $1.802 million in grants contributed to date (see side bar), A second round of awards, including an additional $I million in grants from American Express, will be announced in April 1997.
World Monuments Watch grants demonstrate WMF's catalytic role in generating and carrying out the action that will aid in removing a site from the endangered list. An overview of the program's first dynamic year appears on pages 5-6.