City of Madison

Former City of Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz

Former Mayor Dave Cieslewicz's Blog

Another Step Forward

October 11, 2010 12:56 PM

It's a wicked problem, but a group of citizens has helped us figure out how to make Overture an even better community asset.

The Overture Ad Hoc Committee completed its work the other day by endorsing the basic outline of the solution offered for the art center's future: city ownership with a lease to a new nonprofit to run the building.

But the committee wisely didn't stop there. It offered important conditions on that endorsement.

The committee wants an independent expert to review the business model. I agree, and we should have one on board this week.

The committee suggests that an architect or engineer with experience with similar buildings inspect the building. The analysis already done by city staff was widely acclaimed, but if an even closer look is desired, let's get it done.

The committee says we need performance standards for the nonprofit to meet in terms of community outreach. I couldn't agree more and have made that a priority from the beginning of these discussions.

The committee wants the nonprofit operating board to have broad representation from the community. I agree, but my suggestions in that regard have been rejected by those who would form the new nonprofit. They want a board heavy on fundraisers. I understand that, but this is an area that's going to need more discussion.

A very significant finding of the committee was that the much more aggressive private fundraising projections for the new nonprofit are realistic. That means that chances that the city subsidy for the building could be kept in check are pretty good.

The committee didn't reach a consensus on how the building should be staffed, and that could be the most difficult issue to work out of all. But in the end, the ad hoc committee did a great job of moving us forward on a very short time line. My thanks go to chair Mark Bugher and to other citizens and alders on the committee including Mayor Paul Soglin, alders Lauren Cnare, Mike Verveer and Tim Bruer and citizen members Pablo Sanchez, Becky Steinhoff, Jim Garner, Deirdre Garton and Warren Onken. They've made a valuable contribution to solving a knotty civic challenge.


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