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Friday, November 28, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 14.0° F  Overcast
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Pre-Overture arts palace controversy!
From the Isthmus archives, March 9, 1990
Ralph Sandler
Ralph Sandler
Credit:Brent Nicastro

Contributor Phil Davis profiles the Madison Civic Center on the eve of its 10th anniversary. An estimated 350,000 people visit each year, viewing exhibitions at the Madison Art Center and attending performances. But director Ralph Sandler's enthusiasm for adventurous fare, like Philip Glass' The Photographer, makes the city-subsidized facility a magnet for criticism. "Members of the Civic Center Commission looked at the bottom line and said, 'My God, you lost $12,000,'" Sandler recalls. "And I said, 'You watch. This is an investment in the future of the Civic Center.'" Sandler says The Photographer thrust the Civic Center into the national spotlight and helped secure a $200,000 challenge grant. He leaves Madison in 1990 for a job in New York City, but returns two years later and is now a fine-art photographer here. The Civic Center has been transformed into the Overture Center.

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