Culture Funding in Rochester

I put forward one proposal based on my conversations with Mark and Sandra, I am happy to accept any proposal that achieves the desired outcome of less wasted money.  As a city we subsidize a Music Department, the Mayo Civic Center, and provide space for the Civic Theatre and Art Center.  Notice that these facilities all share the same building footprint.  We partially fund the facility costs for Civic Theatre and Art Center.  These two organizations are separate from the city.  If these organizations hurt each other the taxpayers lose.

Since we know issues exist we have 2 choices to make:

  1. Do we make changes or do nothing?
  2. Assuming we choose change, what changes do we make?

Here is some background as to what we have seen in the last year+.  For everything that I have seen and heard, I am certain there are far more examples.

  • The Indigo Girls and Suzanne Vega were scheduled 2 days apart by different organizations, one concert hurt the other.
  • The initial Mayo Civic Center Renovation failed to offer a path to the Art Center with out the Civic Center being staffed.
  • Artini, a major fundraiser for the Art Center, was held at the same time as a swing concert event.
  • A Celtic music performance was scheduled on top of another one.  Fortunately one canceled.
  • No changes in process have been suggested despite requests from the council.
  • Funding for quality of life amenities has declined significantly over the last decade.

So do we do nothing or make some changes?

I also would like to use this as the first of many changes to more narrowly focus “parks and rec” on “parks and rec.”  Over many decades, this department has become an empire.  As I stated in the meeting, I do not blame its current director for this.  Instead of focusing exclusively on parks our volunteer board also handles the Civic Center, a volleyball center, a rec center, forestry, golf courses, as well as park and rec programming.  I support the involvement on programing at these facilities but facilities management is not a fit in my book.  One of my goals in doing this is to give us the option in the future of merging city / county functions into one parks district with a separate board and levy.  Right now, just like arts and culture, they are dying a death of 1000 cuts.

I made this presentation, and am happy to accept any alternative suggestion that also address the conflicts.  I will not accept do nothing.

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