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Overture privatization

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Re: Overture privatization

Postby Stebben84 » Thu Sep 23, 2010 8:03 pm

bmasel wrote:Only way to save the place is to turn it over to the Ho-Chunk, get them a casino license for the lobby, and include contract provisions ensuring continuing subsidy to the performance spaces.


I really hope you've just smoked a bunch of weed before you wrote this and it's a joke. I'm only sayin' cause I've heard this before and it's absolutely induced by serious amounts of drugs.
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Re: Overture privatization

Postby bdog » Thu Sep 23, 2010 8:55 pm

Stebben84 wrote:
bmasel wrote:Only way to save the place is to turn it over to the Ho-Chunk, get them a casino license for the lobby, and include contract provisions ensuring continuing subsidy to the performance spaces.


I really hope you've just smoked a bunch of weed before you wrote this and it's a joke. I'm only sayin' cause I've heard this before and it's absolutely induced by serious amounts of drugs.

Hmmmmm...I've said it before and I don't take serious amounts of drugs.

Bottom line, turn it over to a BUSINESS MAN / WOMAN, not just someone who is free to spend someone else's money.
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Re: Overture privatization

Postby Stebben84 » Thu Sep 23, 2010 9:08 pm

bdog wrote:Bottom line, turn it over to a BUSINESS MAN / WOMAN, not just someone who is free to spend someone else's money.


I have no issue with that except that a business man/woman in a corporation DOES spend someone's money besides their own. It's called the shareholders.

Plus, just because it's a business man/woman running it doesn't mean it will do any better. To be timely, Blockbuster just filed for bankruptcy. What happened there? They knew their competitors. They knew the trends.

I'm amazed at the credit everyone puts into corporations or small businesses as if they can do no wrong.

If we left it ALL up to the corporations we could very well get fucked.
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Re: Overture privatization

Postby bdog » Thu Sep 23, 2010 9:17 pm

Stebben84 wrote:To be timely, Blockbuster just filed for bankruptcy. What happened there? They knew their competitors. They knew the trends.

I'm amazed at the credit everyone puts into corporations or small businesses as if they can do no wrong.

If we left it ALL up to the corporations we could very well get fucked.

Perhaps I should clarify - not a CORPORATION, a BUSINESS PERSON. Someone whose livelihood, i.e., literal bread on the table, depends on the business doing well.

Blockbuster???? You may as well site the pony express.
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Re: Overture privatization

Postby bmasel » Thu Sep 23, 2010 9:21 pm

Blockbuster did just fine. They took the cash, then shed the debts.
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Re: Overture privatization

Postby ilikebeans » Fri Sep 24, 2010 1:36 am

I assume that we would like whatever entity that takes over Overture to understand local needs and local programming.

I'm not going to say the current administration has done a bang-up job, but I'm 99% certain that Ho-Chunk would not. That would be a bottom-dollar concern, and nothing more.

Or maybe we need MOONWALKER: THE MICHAEL JACKSON EXPERIENCE downtown?

Allow me to be presumptuous: No, we do not.
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Re: Overture privatization

Postby kicksville » Fri Sep 24, 2010 2:53 am

I assume that we would like whatever entity that takes over Overture to understand local needs and local programming.


One question kept coming up during the Overture Ad Hoc Committee meeting on Thursday: what happens if the proposed privatization fails? The obvious but unspoken answer to everyone in the room except the die-hard supporters of the currently proposed model: the non-profit declares bankruptcy, the City is stuck with the tab, and a national venue management company like SMG takes over programming. Buh-bye community programming....

The two fundamental problems are: The decisions about Overture are being made on fatally flawed research by a company with no credible research background (despite the claims in their company literature), and that the process to get to this point was done behind closed doors.

I have seen one reasonable proposal that actually has a chance of succeeding while maintaining (and even expanding) Overture's role as a resource for the local community. One. And guess what? It didn't come from AMS Planning and Research, Overture's management, or the Ad Hoc Committee members. It also didn't cost $425,000. I will definitely post it here once I get the final draft and approval from the author - it may ultimately not be the answer, but it is a viable alternative to the shite proposed by AMS and greedily jumped on by 201 State Foundation. AND, it's open for discussion....

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Re: Overture privatization

Postby swoon_queen » Fri Sep 24, 2010 12:25 pm

Honestly, one thing I keep mulling over is this (and feel free to enlighten me if there's a blatant answer I should be getting): If the city's willing to step in and "save" Overture from its financial woes, why can't it "save" other Madison cultural centers who suffer similarly? Is it really as basic as non-profit vs. for-profit?

For instance, it's depressing to see the Orpheum across the street wanly attempt to raise money to put in new marquee lights and renovate while offering entertainment, food and beverages at a significant discount from Overture (i.e. affordable to most instead of some). Equally, it's heartening to see how Darwin at Frequency, Matt and Scott at the Majestic, and Cathy at the High Noon hustle to fill their respective spaces with entertainment and fans while balancing the realities of a bottom line in a tough economy. The Bartell, Bricks Theater and Broom Street contribute to a thriving theater scene in Madison despite their own challenges as non-profit groups. Edenfred's facing closure due to a zoning discrepancy. All told, I might venture a guess (albeit an undereducated one) that the sum total of attendance at these other venues in Madison is at least equal, if not more than, that of the Overture Center and representative of a far broader cross-section of the adult population in Madison.

I believe Overture is valuable, but if it is to be "bailed out" I think it would be only fair to consider an allowance to some of these other tenacious contributors to the Madison cultural landscape. Indeed, many of their more affordable stages and spaces are where community groups turn when they don't have the luxury of spending over $15k in production/venue fees.
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Re: Overture privatization

Postby kicksville » Fri Sep 24, 2010 12:41 pm

Swoon_Queen, I think you make an excellent point. The other venues immediately around Overture contribute to the community in a far more direct way than Overture. The one thing Overture has that the others don't, is the ability to be the center of this community simply because of the size of its production facilities. There are a lot of shows that couldn't be put on anywhere else in the city, whether it be a Broadway show (I know...I know....I don't like Broadway either, but it does generate a positive economic impact on downtown as a whole) or a larger musical artist that looks at the Orpheum's load-in reality and goes "no friggin' way."

That being said, I think part of my concern is that the city is going to be on the hook for a far greater sum in 5 years than it is now if this model proposed by AMS et al is adopted. As I mentioned, I've seen one proposal that addresses this, and I'd love to share it as soon as I can. And, it directly looks at the broader musical/theater community as being part of the big picture.
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Re: Overture privatization

Postby snoqueen » Fri Sep 24, 2010 1:30 pm

swoon_queen's post makes another implicit point. All the listed venues are struggling hard in the present economy, and some may (unfortunately) not make it.

Why would we think Overture might have it easier? With their ticket prices being higher, you'd predict they'd have it even worse than the more affordable venues.

I am not sure the most talented management team in the world could bring Overture's bottom line into the black -- not until the national economy turns around. This won't be in the next five years.

I will be interested to read Conrad's proposal if he can post it.

For now, I think we need to find another use (temporary or permanent) for the building, or parts of it. A casino, a library -- there's got to be some use for the place. The functional "bottom line" needs to be the most good for the greatest number of people if public money is to be used wisely.
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Re: Overture privatization

Postby kicksville » Fri Sep 24, 2010 1:51 pm

To some extent, Overture is already being used in ways that might not be evident. For example, we hosted the Zebrafish Development and Genetics conference last spring: I could see a potential relationship between Overture and UW to bring larger academic/scientific conferences here that are logistically easier to accommodate in Overture than at UW.

Overture's main spaces are too specialized to be used for anything else but concerts, presentations, Broadway, and so on. Some spaces were designed to be used for all sorts of things (the lobby, Promenade Hall & Terrace, etc.). However, just the cost of basic maintenance of the theater spaces alone makes it necessary to put some kind of programming in there, if for nothing else but to help pay for the upkeep.

Oh, and for the record, the alternative plan I've mentioned is not mine....I wish I had it together enough to have come up with a real solution myself :wink: I will post it, though, as soon as I get permission.
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Re: Overture privatization

Postby kicksville » Fri Sep 24, 2010 2:08 pm

snoqueen wrote:All the listed venues are struggling hard in the present economy, and some may (unfortunately) not make it.... I am not sure the most talented management team in the world could bring Overture's bottom line into the black -- not until the national economy turns around.

Don't forget that the large-scale entertainment industry usually responds to economic conditions about a year later than everyone else, principally because things are booked so far ahead. For example, things stayed pretty busy at Overture in late 2008 when the economy was sinking like the Titanic. We didn't see the programming slow-down until the 2009-2010 season (which continued through the programming of the 2010-2011 season), and we're only now starting to see an upswing for next season from the relatively better economic news of mid-2009.

And I mean relative - I'm not trying to get into a discussion of whether the economy on the whole is doing badly or doing well. I'm also not saying Overture's management is suddenly doing a bang-up job or that things will get better just because the economy might be recovering. It's just the reality of the business.

For smaller venues like The Majestic that don't book 12-18 months in advance, they're much more subject to month-to-month economic realities. The Orpheum has its own set of problems - there are some management issues there as well as the effects it may have felt from the economic downturn. Like you, Swoon_Queen, I'm also heartened by the irrepressible energy in the community that fuels the High Noon, Forward Theater, the Bartell, and so on. I wish we had that kind of energy in Overture's management - maybe they wouldn't have ended up where they are....
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