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Sponsorship key to Vatican exhibit
By MICHAEL GAFFNEY LubbockOnline.com

When the Rev. Malcolm Neyland set out to bring an exhibition of 31 ancient frescoes from the Vatican Museums, he knew he would need a lot of help.

It fell to him to raise the money necessary to pay for shipping, security, advance publicity and all ancillary costs of the exhibition.

So, along with scores of South Plains residents, Neyland created the Vatican Exhibit 2002 Foundation, a non-profit organization established to support charitable, scientific, literary and educational purposes.

The foundation, directed by Neyland and aided by a Vatican Exhibit Committee, is charged with raising funds to pay for the exhibit "Traditions and Renewal: The Vatican Museums Exhibition," scheduled at The Museum at Texas Tech on June 2, 2002.

"We established the foundation about a year-and-a-half ago, in order to get this exhibit," Neyland said. "But after this exhibit our foundation will continue to support other exhibits."

About 80 people in the Lubbock area, including doctors, lawyers, judges and teachers, are serving on several exhibit committees, he said.

The committees are working to raise funds and in-kind donations for the foundation, he said.

"For a thing like this to occur it takes a multitude of people and help," Neyland said. "This is no small project.

"The foundation is responsible for the insurance premium, for the transportation -- bringing the Vatican art from the Vatican Museums and returning it."

Although the foundation raised in-kind donations totaling about $1.2 million by October 2001, it needs more cash donors and sponsors, Neyland said.

The city government is supporting the foundation by volunteering to host visiting civil dignitaries, he said.

"We will have visitors that will be public servants, like mayors or governors, and city officials will help coordinate these visits," Neyland explained.

Continental Airlines is donating transportation for the art works, and Texas Tech is donating exhibit space and security once the frescoes arrive in the Hub City.

Market Lubbock Inc., the primary economic development organization for Lubbock and overseer to the Lubbock Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Lubbock Sports Authority, will assist in welcoming visiting dignitaries, Neyland said.

University Medical Center is providing medical expertise for special guests such as Vatican officials, he said.

"You have to realize that the Vatican City is a sovereign state and, as such, there's a certain protocol, certain requirements necessary for the dignitaries," Neyland said. "If, let's say, one of the cardinals from the Vatican flies in, the hospital will stand ready to provide any necessary medical care."

Additionally, the United States government recognizes the Vatican City as a sovereign state, therefore, the federal government is involved whenever a dignitary from the city-state arrives in the U.S., he said.

"We have been working with the federal government for some time now for these dignitary visits," Neyland said.

And because the medieval frescoes require constant expert treatment, including special packaging, "I have the responsibility of bringing the curators, the two Vatican artists who have been working on cleaning and restoration of these frescos, to Lubbock," Neyland said. "They accompany the frescos just to see that they are packed and unpacked properly.

"I'm also responsible for bringing them back at the end of the exhibit to accompany the art works home to Rome."

The foundation is seeking donations and sponsorships from all quarters.

Each donor and sponsor contributing a minimum of $500 will receive a special exhibit Christmas ornament designed by Nelda Laney, wife of the Texas Speaker of the House Pete Laney.

Individual donors who contribute from $500 to $4,999 also will receive a guided tour of the exhibit.

Sponsorship categories range from $5,000 to $9,999 for "Supporting Sponsors," up to $2 million-plus for "Presenting Sponsors," Neyland said.

Sponsors donating $5,000 or more will be listed in all programs, catalogs and educational materials produced in conjunction with the exhibit.

Sponsors who donate $10,000 to $24,999 will be invited to an invitation-only showing on June 1, 2002, and receive mention in published materials as well as a listing on the exhibition's Internet site.

Sponsors donating $2 million or more in cash or in-kind services will receive prominent name-displays on all exhibition promotional items, including a CD/Video that the dation plans to sell in advance of the exhibition.

Presenting sponsors also will receive invitations to attend hospitality events welcoming visiting dignitaries.

Other benefits may be negotiated, Neyland said.

All donations to the foundation are tax deductible.

Anyone interested in contributing may contact the Vatican Exhibit administrative office at 749-2549.

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