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Overture - the never ending drama

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Overture - the never ending drama

Postby Huckleby » Sun May 29, 2011 9:13 pm

In case you missed it, the blaring headline atop this Sunday's WSJ is "Overture Faces Live or Die Choice". Good lord, what's up now!? The substance of the article is that Overture is hiring a new director, a fact well known for months. Oh, and we're informed that this is a very important decision.

Last week, Soglin opined that Overture's newly minted operational structure is destined to crash and burn.

WTF? The city has guaranteed the Overture Center $2M annually plus increases for inflation. That is enough money to pay the utilities and hire a skeleton staff to mill about the building. This means the very worst case scenario is that we will have a Potemkin villiage performance center. No need for death, crashes, burnings.

A consultant in the newspaper article claims that about $12M in private donations is needed annually to support a performance center like Overture, and that a metropolitan area of our size and demographics can be expected to generate about $5M.
http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/ ... 03286.html

Well, there you have it. The Overture will survive in Madison, but it certainly will not thrive. Lets just accept it and turn the page. I don't want our elected officials wasting any more time on this Afghanistan-like project. I really don't care to hear any more doom and gloom talk. Let Overture operate at the level of activity that private support allows and leave the public alone.
Last edited by Huckleby on Sun May 29, 2011 9:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Overture - the never ending drama

Postby bdog » Sun May 29, 2011 9:23 pm

Yes. You fancy the idea that you live in a big city?

Then empty your pockets.

Leave the general public alone.
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Re: Overture - the never ending drama

Postby snoqueen » Sun May 29, 2011 9:38 pm

I'm relieved they're finally facing the music (not exactly the best term) and acknowledging Overture cannot realistically function as built. The first rule of holes applies here.

Reading the comments to the WSJ article, I was interested to see two of the first six or seven mention repurposing part of the building to be a library. I tossed this idea out right here on the Forum several months ago -- it's such an obvious part of a solution, and I am thrilled a few others have come up with the same thought. I hope it at least gets enough traction to be discussed on a more official level.
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Re: Overture - the never ending drama

Postby Huckleby » Mon May 30, 2011 12:56 am

I'm not sure reality has sunk in. The WSJ evidently thinks a new director can make the difference. A couple of hopeful supporters in that article call for someone "charasmatic" and "a magnet for resources." LOL. Sounds like a silver-tongued savior will slip into town and sprinkle the required pixie dust.

Maybe Harold Hill from "The Music Man" can convince people we need a performance center to keep the youth in line:
We got trouble, right here in Mad City,
That starts with "T", that rhymes with "P"
and that stands for "Pool"!

I feel bad for the current director, Cato, he did a good job. They should just rehire him.
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Re: Overture - the never ending drama

Postby gargantua » Mon May 30, 2011 9:52 am

They should hire that guy from the Simpsons episode who persuaded the townsfolk of Springfield that they really, really, needed a monorail.
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Re: Overture - the never ending drama

Postby Bad Gradger » Mon May 30, 2011 12:08 pm

gargantua wrote:They should hire that guy from the Simpsons episode who persuaded the townsfolk of Springfield that they really, really, needed a monorail.

He's dead. :(
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Re: Overture - the never ending drama

Postby Stebben84 » Mon May 30, 2011 7:54 pm

snoqueen wrote:Reading the comments to the WSJ article, I was interested to see two of the first six or seven mention repurposing part of the building to be a library.


So repurposing the current library is out of the equation, or do we need two libraries within about a block of each other.

I respect many of your posts, but this one is purely ridiculous. I've said it before; this building isn't made to host a library. It would be the worst library ever. Buildings like this are built for a specific purpose. It's not like factory that can be renovated.

Huckleby wrote: A couple of hopeful supporters in that article call for someone "charasmatic" and "a magnet for resources." LOL. Sounds like a silver-tongued savior will slip into town and sprinkle the required pixie dust.


If you get the right person, they CAN do wonders with fundraising.

So what would people rather have, a performing arts center and contemporary art museum, or none of that?

I guess some just want to bring Madison back to the 60's and take a big shit on cultural progress. Some of you are stating to sound like Scotty and his train derailment. The arts cost money and they don't often make money. They do provide a valuable part of a city, state, or country. Apparently here in Madison, that's not such a big deal.

I hope it succeeds, unlike others on this forum. Is it too big? Right now maybe, but in 10 years it prolly won't be. Just like the train. Build it and they will come.
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Re: Overture - the never ending drama

Postby bdog » Mon May 30, 2011 8:03 pm

Cultural progress??? The OC? LMAO!

I'm glad more people are starting to sound like Scotty and the train when it comes to OC. That's the one thing he got right.
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Re: Overture - the never ending drama

Postby snoqueen » Mon May 30, 2011 8:35 pm

If you repurposed part of Overture to library functions, the first rule would be to do nothing permanent. You'd have to protect the building as built and work within it.

You could move administrative functions there and leave more space for library patrons in the remodeled Mifflin St library. That would be the easiest -- you know they've got acres of office area somewhere in Overture, though the public never sees it.

Does Overture have lots of storage space? The library's book storage could plausibly be divided between two buildings, and Overture is probably already climate controlled to protect the books.

If during remodeling a passageway was built under Mifflin Street so staff could go back and forth and books could be moved, that's not an extreme change.

The library wants to have more meeting rooms in its renovation. Space could be found in Overture for some of that, I would think.

I don't know what's behind the public areas of Overture, but someone does. If anyone wants to take this suggestion seriously -- and that requires critical mass, not just a few people on discussion lists -- the first thing would be to have a committee walk through Overture top to bottom and find out what's behind the scenes.

If by using existing space you could reduce the cost of renovating the downtown library, everyone benefits.

I don't think this is so dumb. It might or might not be workable, but saying it's impossible before finding out is what's, well, not smart.

None of these suggestions calls for decreasing the Art Center space or doing anything to the two major performance spaces in Overture. Nor does it take away the possibility that in ten years Overture could be in better shape and might not need to share space with the library any longer.
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Re: Overture - the never ending drama

Postby Huckleby » Mon May 30, 2011 9:25 pm

Stebben84 wrote: If you get the right person, they CAN do wonders with fundraising.

I don't believe it. Nobody is going to step in, and by force of their charismatic personality start generating many millions more in fundraising.

Maybe Bernie Madoff, but he is unavailable.

If somebody did have such magic, why would they take the job? Only somebody looking for career advancement will take-on such a risky proposition.

Stebben84 wrote: So what would people rather have, a performing arts center and contemporary art museum, or none of that?

I guess some just want to bring Madison back to the 60's and take a big shit on cultural progress.


I really dislike these black/white, false choices. A person can be for the arts, and simultaneously be leery of exposing the public to a financial drain. Most citizens, myself included, are OK with a $2M annual subsidy (although I think it should be more accurately labeled a gift tax.)
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Re: Overture - the never ending drama

Postby Huckleby » Mon May 30, 2011 9:34 pm

snoqueen wrote: If by using existing space you could reduce the cost of renovating the downtown library, everyone benefits.


You might have a workable idea.

The problem with innovative approaches is that they will tie-up the city in endless knots of debate and distraction. My preference is to let the private foundation do their best, with limited public support and control.
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Re: Overture - the never ending drama

Postby gargantua » Mon May 30, 2011 9:53 pm

bdog wrote:Cultural progress??? The OC? LMAO!

I'm glad more people are starting to sound like Scotty and the train when it comes to OC. That's the one thing he got right.


On the contrary, it was only the first of many things he got wrong.

Specifically as it relates to Overture, while it would be nice to acquire some silver-tongued devil to shake donations from the tree of wealth. that is not a strategy. That's a hope and a prayer. Soglin sees that for what it is.

The library idea is at least worth exploring for administrative/storage space. I would not be surprised,, given the fiscal constraints, if Mayor Soglin balks at the idea of a whole new library. I voted for him because he is a realist. A realist knows that we are in for at least 8 years of Scott Walker. I hate that reality, but he will survive recall and he will be re-elected. I only mention this because it affects everything Madison would like to do. The answer is no to practically everything, until about 2018 or so. Sucks, as I will be pretty old by then.
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Re: Overture - the never ending drama

Postby Bad Gradger » Mon May 30, 2011 10:16 pm

Huckleby wrote:If somebody did have such magic, why would they take the job? Only somebody looking for career advancement will take-on such a risky proposition.

That's what I'm concerned about. Anyone who succeeds is going to skip town as soon as some big-city arts board dangles a half-million-dollar salary in front of them.
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Re: Overture - the never ending drama

Postby Huckleby » Mon May 30, 2011 10:21 pm

gargantua wrote: That's a hope and a prayer. Soglin sees that for what it is.... I voted for him because he is a realist. A realist knows that we are in for at least 8 years of Scott Walker.

Ya, I agree that Soglin is smart and a realist. But he's also got a big ego, and he seems to think he can be the one to conqueor the Overture monster. He's not accepting the transfer to private ownership. He's calling for a $150K study so we can understand the problems better. This is the equivalent of Kennedy sending military advisors to Vietnam. We're going to sucked into trying to save Overture.

Soglin needs to do NOTHING and just accept the mixed consequences of a struggling Performance Center largely out of his control. Step away, mayor.
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Re: Overture - the never ending drama

Postby Huckleby » Mon May 30, 2011 10:24 pm

Bad Gradger wrote:
Huckleby wrote:If somebody did have such magic, why would they take the job? Only somebody looking for career advancement will take-on such a risky proposition.

That's what I'm concerned about. Anyone who succeeds is going to skip town as soon as some big-city arts board dangles a half-million-dollar salary in front of them.


What you say is true, but I think we can push the problem of grand success to the back of our list of worries.
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