City Negotiates Agreement on Overture Center

November 4, 2010

Agreement Now Goes To City Council

Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and the city's negotiating team announced today that they've come to an agreement with Overture officials for city ownership and private operation of Overture Center. The agreement will now go to the Common Council for consideration.

"My goal has been to find a viable, new structure that puts Overture on sound footing while minimizing cost to taxpayers. Based on input from the Council, the city's staffing study and the city's facility study, I believe this agreement accomplishes that," Mayor Cieslewicz said. "I look forward to working with the Council to move this process forward."

The agreement will be introduced to the City Council at its meeting next Tuesday and will be discussed by the Council tonight at a special meeting.

"It is clear to all of us who served on the Overture Ad Hoc Committee that Overture is an incredible asset to the community and performs a valuable economic development and cultural role," said Mark Bugher, who chaired the Overture Ad Hoc Committee, which recommended city ownership and private operation of the center. "I hope the City Council will move this agreement forward and ensure that Overture continues to play this important role for years to come."

"This agreement is a critical piece of the Overture equation and central to the Council's decision making process," Council President Mark Clear said. "It answers the detailed questions about the financial, operational and governance relationship between the city and the operator that up until now have been only speculation. The agreement protects the interests of the citizens, of the city and of the employees while providing a path to long-term, sustainable success for Overture as an institution."

"This is a good and fair agreement for all sides," Mayor Cieslewicz said. "It means that the current city subsidy for Overture will not increase beyond inflation, the city's share of capital costs will be about what they were for the old Civic Center, and no permanent full-time employees will lose their jobs. And without the agreement the city would face a potential claim for up to $6 million in interest payments, for which we would have gotten nothing. Turning down the agreement would face city taxpayers with that potential claim for millions of dollars of interest payments with nothing to show for it and with no resolution to the problem."

Under the agreement, the city commits to maintaining approximately the current level of subsidy at $1.41 million annually. The agreement also includes several key provisions:

Employment: Custodial and maintenance employees will remain city employees, and 201 State will pay the city for these services. All other employees will be offered a job with 201 State by January 1, 2012 at their current salaries. 201 State will recognize labor unions currently at Overture and will bargain with those unions on future terms and conditions of employment. Employment changes will take place on July 1, 2012. Until then, all current employment agreements will stay in place.

Maintenance: The City and 201 State agree to a roughly 50-50 split of long-term maintenance over the next 15 years.

Performance Standards: 201 State must meet and report on several financial and programming performance standards annually, including ensuring educational outreach, number of performances and other measures detailed in the agreement.

Governance: 201 State will be governed by a 21-member board with a five member executive committee. The city will have three appointments to the board and one to the executive committee. In addition, 201 State must create a community-based advisory committee that will advise 201 State on programming diversity, community engagement activities and how to spend 201 State funds dedicated to community activities. The city will appoint half the members of the committee. In addition, the existing resident company advisory board will continue.

Contact:
  • Rachel Strauch-Nelson, 608-266-4611