Common Council Workgroup, Mayor, Overture Officials Reach Proposal for Future of Overture Center

Monday, December 13, 2010 - 10:11am

Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, Common Council President Mark Clear and 201 State Foundation Board Chair Deirdre Garton announced today that negotiating teams reached agreement over the weekend on a proposal for the long-term future of the Overture Center. The proposal will be voted on by the full Council on Tuesday evening.

"This agreement meets my four objectives of protecting taxpayers, being fair to those who work at Overture, being acceptable to the donors who are retiring Overture's debt, and having a good chance for success in the long-run," Cieslewicz said. "Under this agreement, taxpayers will pay about the same amount they would have to run and maintain the old Civic Center, Overture workers will be guaranteed a job offer and every union worker will have a union job, and the private fundraising necessary to keep the building open is ambitious but doable. I believe that this agreement puts Overture in a strong position to be successful long into the future.

"The alders on the workgroup deserve credit for their diligence and their flexibility, and the donor group deserves recognition for their patience and openness to compromise."

"I'm very proud of the efforts of the Council workgroup," Common Council President Mark Clear said. "Without their hard work, willingness to be flexible, dedication to negotiating in good faith and heroic braving of the snowstorm, we would not have been able to reach this agreement in the short timeframe available. The broad cross-section of Alders represented on the workgroup bodes well for support from the full Council on Tuesday. Equally praiseworthy is the team of Overture representatives who worked closely with us toward the goals we shared: protecting the interests of the city and ensuring the long-term success of Overture."

"Overture Center's boards, staff and donors, along with the lending banks, have always been committed to forging a sustainable future for Overture Center for the Arts," Deirdre Garton, Chair of the 201 State Foundation Board said. "While this model differs from the one we proposed, we believe that it achieves that goal for everyone in the Overture family - staff, patrons, volunteers, donors and artists. Jerry Frautschi gave this community an extraordinary building. With a stable and sustainable plan to move forward, assured by the City's commitment, the community will continue to make magic inside the building."

After 10 hours of productive negotiations over the weekend, all sides agreed to bring the proposal to their governing bodies for approval. Details of the proposal include:

• A non-profit entity would own and operate Overture as of January 1, 2012. Employees who choose to continue employment at Overture would transition from city employment at that time.

• The City would commit to an annual $2 million subsidy adjusted for inflation.

• Jobs would be guaranteed to all current permanent staff with the exception of top management. 201 State may enter into individual employment contracts with top management.

• The job guarantee would come with a commitment to guarantee wage levels as of January 1, 2012 (including a negotiated 3% wage increase for AFSCME employees and non-represented staff effective the last pay period of 2011, per negotiated city contracts). This wage rate would be guaranteed to the incumbents but would not necessarily impact the wages of future staff in the same position.

• 201 State would agree to recognize and bargain with the unions representing Overture staff.

• 201 State would share in accrued pension, vacation and comp time liabilities of those staff who would transition to employment with the non-profit.

• 201 State would commit to the establishment of a Community Advisory Board, 45% of which would be appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the Common Council; continue the existence of the Resident Company Advisory Board; agree to close its board meetings only under specified circumstances; and report annually on financial viability of the non-profit entity. 201 State would determine the specifics of these provisions and include them in the contract, the grant or the board's by-laws.

The Common Council President's Workgroup on Overture will meet again Monday at 5:00 p.m. in the Front Lecture Room at the Central Library to brief alders and the public on the understanding. The issue will be debated at Tuesday evening's Common Council meeting. A joint meeting of the Madison Cultural Arts District Board, the Overture Development Corporation and the 201 State Foundation will discuss the issue at 8:00 a.m. Tuesday.

  • Mark Clear, Common Council President, 608-695-5709
  • Rachel Strauch-Nelson, Mayor's Office, 608-266-4611
  • Robert Chappell, Overture Center, 608-258-4438