Entries Tagged 'Washington Pavilion' ↓

Is the Pavilion enjoying a empty sense of security?

Stu Whitney thinks that Darrin Smith’s new job as President of the Washington Pavilion will be smooth sailing. because gosh darnit folks (since the Pavilion charges for everything now, including the Arts Center) it really has become a place for everyone;

Was the Washington Pavilion truly a building for the masses? And just how much public money would Sioux Falls pour into it? (referring to the rock concert of Collective Soul and the shaking balcony).

This really came down to one thing, poor engineering and design. A few years after the incident and the fix, Arturo Sandoval played the Pavilion, he had every person in that hall dancing on their feet to a sold out show. I looked over at my boss at the time (I was lead usher), Jeff Venekamp and said, “Are you thinking what I am thinking?” He was, if Arturo would have played the great hall before Collective Soul, how would the architects blame Rock & Roll for their bad designs? You know, because Cuban Jazz is hardly the devil 🙂

It wasn’t R & R at fault or even those evil Cubans. Which has been proven throughout the years.

Then there is the ‘funding’.

The annual contribution of about $1.5 million from the city’s entertainment tax – primarily for expenses such as maintenance and utilities – comprises just 20 percent of the Pavilion’s operating budget of $7.5 million, with the city also providing capital improvement funds as needed.

Okay, a little clarity. If you continue to read the article, you will see the Pavilion cost around $32 million to complete instead of the $20 million actually pitched to voters (actually it is over $50 million to date). The entertainment tax mentioned above was also supposed to go bye-bye after the bonds were paid off, you know, those BS sunshine clauses people always talk about. Didn’t happen, they continue to pile that money into the money trap it has become, with constant repairs and subsidies. Like a new roof on the Cinendome, the main roof, and hundreds of other ‘little fixes’ in the building. Their is also the millions from the CIP (2nd penny) for windows and malfunctioning sprinkler systems that ARE NOT part of the $1.5 million subsidy (you know, the reason why are water rates are going up). And of course this little tidbit, that always makes me chuckle, in a very dark way;

But it represents solid progress for the nonprofit Pavilion, which has been in the black six straight years after hitting rock bottom in 2009.

The Pavilion has never been in the black, let me repeat that THE PAVILION HAS NEVER BEEN IN THE BLACK! That’s like saying your lemonade stand made a profit after 3 people actually bought lemonade from you and your grand pappy bought your supplies (lemonade) and stand.

Same goes for the Events Center. A subsidy or a mortgage payment not tied into actual profitability, isn’t profit. No normal business runs that way. The money you take in should cover your expenses, or you are operating in the red. Doesn’t matter how much your uncle Bob gives you to stay afloat. In the real world, the Pavilion would have filed for bankruptcy years ago.

But there is still room for improvement, which makes Darrin’s job cut out for him.

Besides making the Visual Arts Center free again, the first thing President Smith needs to do is stop lying to the public, or at least tell us the truth about finances. Let’s face it, the Pavilion is an unprofitable organization that gets most of it’s funding from people who never use your facility. Invite them in, for FREE every once in awhile. And those elitists that use the place? Make them pay double.

UPDATE 2: WTF announcement of the day, Darrin Smith to be new President of Pavilion


When I first got the text about 45 minutes ago, I busted up laughing. You know how the saying goes, and appointing Darrin as the next president of the Pavilion proves it, it’s WHO you know in this town, not WHAT you know.

In a press conference that just concluded at the Pavilion, the mayor introduced Darrin to the crowd. In some kind of strange irony, the podium was just below a phrase on the wall there for the Argus photography exhibit about freedom of the press, I had to chuckle even more.

It should be no surprise, Darrin has been an opportunist since he jumped on the scene of the city council several years ago, jumping from job to job when the going got rough, and getting out before the ship sank completely, at least his little dingy of a ship.

When he lost his mayoral bid, he quickly resigned from the city council never finishing his second term. When he saw an opportunity to work for Huether, he concocted a junket story about Kermit and hand fed it to Stormland news. Huether rewarded him with a job he knew nothing about, parking systems and community development. In one of his first meetings with the new staff he said to them, “Where do you get a cup of coffee downtown anyway, or eat?” I think they thought it was a joke. He was serious.

Once again, coming off the enormous failure of the Banks project, Smith is running for the hills again, with another promotion, to another job he doesn’t understand or is qualified for (of course, I don’t think any President of the Pavilion was qualified). I’m sure the tension between him and Mike is at an all time high. How could two salesmen fail so huge working together, they must have asked each other?

It will be fun (dreadful) to watch though. The Pavilion has been in meltdown ever since Gary Wood left. The only thing they have been successful at is siphoning money from the CIP to fix the awful reconstruction job that was done only 16 years ago and playing ‘tiddle-dee-winks’ with each other in down time. And it is costing us millions. Good thing we have increased water rates to pay for pipes, because the 2nd penny is all tied up in remodel projects at the Pavilion.

It will also be fun to watch the interaction between the Operations Manager, Jon Loos and Darrin. They will either be two peas in a pod, or come to blows, real quick. There is also probably a lot of butt hurt in current management in the building that wanted that job to, and how it must burn the position was handed over to a parking lot specialist who just happens to be the Mayor’s tennis partner. Like most things Darrin has done throughout his career, he will keep his head where he has had the most success, a place where the sun rarely shines.

I give him about 16-18 months.

Good Luck!

UPDATE: There is another reason why this move is interesting. It is no secret that Darrin’s name has been mentioned as a candidate for mayor in 2018. Kind of hard to run for the position as a city employee. This will give him an opportunity to distant himself from his current job when or if he decides to run.

UPDATE 2: It is also ironic that the Board of Trustees who picked Smith are appointed by the mayor (two members). Guess what else? Darrin was the city’s contact with the Pavilion.

Get your resume out!


The Big Purple Building recently posted the job description for the CEO/President position (DOC: CEO-PAVILION-JD)

I still find it odd they are doing such a lackluster search for such an important position. As someone asked me, “Do you think it is rigged?” In other words, has a person already been pre-chosen and they are just going through the motions?

I guess that answer lies with whoever they choose.

I guess the private donations to finish the Pavilion’s sculpture garden are coming from SF taxpayers

Ever since the Paladino Hohm Sculpture Garden opened, we were told it would be supported mostly by private donations. So what is this?

The City of Sioux Falls, SD, requests formal bids for Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science Paladino Hohm Sculpture Garden.

Fast forward to the approval of contracts, and you will see the city is doling out $379,710. Mind you, this isn’t building an indoor structure, this is almost $400K for grass and landscaping. Another great use of the CIP money . . . NOT.

Still waiting for the ‘Arc of Dreams’ to come ask for their city handout.


Nominate ME to be the Next President of the Washington Pavilion


Hey, who better then me to run the joint? I worked in the Great Hall, I had a show in the Visual Arts Center (and been in joint shows). As a board member of the Civic Dance Association I supported my favorite form of performance art, contemporary dance hosting shows at the Pavilion. I helped with Arts Night, forcing the Pavilion to make many changes to the event to get artists more involved.

The board of trustees is looking for someone local, and we all know I would turn the place upside down, and I wouldn’t be afraid to hand out the pink slips. I also would truly open the doors to EVERYONE, diversify the performances, bring in new promoters and turn the Cinedome into one of the hottest weekend spots for teens and families.

So in all seriousness, or even in snark, nominate me to the board;

As the Washington Pavilion looks to its future, The Board of Trustees are soliciting the community’s suggestions regarding talented individuals in the greater Sioux Falls area who might be ready to serve in this great capacity and continue moving the Pavilion forward. Please share any names of potential candidates with Board Chair Angie Haft at the following email address boardchair@washingtonpavilion.org.

Conflicting stories over at the Pavilion about the change of guard

As we have been suspecting, the Pavilion will soon be looking for a new President (if they haven’t already found one), to replace the two co-presidents;

The Washington Pavilion said its President, Scott Petersen, has advised its Board of Trustees of his intent to step down as President in May.

What I find interesting about this ‘replacement’ is that my sources have been telling me some conflicting reports;

As the Washington Pavilion looks to its future, The Board of Trustees are soliciting the community’s suggestions regarding talented individuals in the greater Sioux Falls area who might be ready to serve in this great capacity and continue moving the Pavilion forward. Please share any names of potential candidates with Board Chair Angie Haft at the following email address boardchair@washingtonpavilion.org.

I find this tidbit interesting, because it seems they have already pegged the person, I also find it interesting because I have been told that the Pavilion would not be promoting from within, and were going to do a national search for the president (maybe they are doing both- but I wouldn’t count on it) either way, it will be someone well connected who will help raise money so the operations manager can continue to run the place like a dictator in his office behind backstage. Any future president will be a mere puppet, the board learned their lesson from Hoffman and Wood.

UPDATE: Is the Pavilion looking for a new co-president?

UPDATE: I was told today that the Pavilion is NOT seeking to put Michelle in a higher position, in fact, she recently stepped down a notch. I am told that the Pavilion will be doing a national search for a full-time president so that the current one can step down also.


Or for that matter a new full-time one?

I haven’t posted awhile about the Big Purple Building, ever since I had a delightful night there seeing Ms. Cash.

But some foot soldiers have been throwing some names out there, one that has been popping up quite a bit is the current marketing director Michelle Wellman. Michelle moved here from the East Coast with her Sanford Dr. Husband.

Killing two birds with one stone; Should we convert the Kirby Science Center into the city administration building


“Watch closely kids, I will use science to show you how money disappears.”

Let’s first look at what we know;

The city (probably) needs more administration space.

The city OWNS the Washington Pavilion and spends millions each year maintaining the building.

The city is close to $400,000,000.00 in debt and we certainly don’t need to be bonding for a possible $24 million dollar building.

The Kirby Science Center has long been a financial drain on the facility. Some of said that if the Pavilion eliminated the Science Center, the remaining entities (The VAC, The Cinedome, Leonardos, The Belbas Theatre and the Great Hall) could be profitable and eliminate a subsidy.

There are also some great benefits;

Like I said above, we already own the building and dump plenty of tax dollars in it already each year for maintenance.

We already have a parking ramp that could be used.

The building is only 2 blocks from city hall, 1 block from Carnegie and in the heart of downtown.

We could leave the gift shop, the cinedome and the restaurant open and still have access to three floors and thousands of feet of square footage.

Converting the space to city offices would be minimal cost at most. In fact, auctioning off the exhibits would probably pay for the conversion.

There would also be some detractors;

What kind of sponsorship contract was drawn up with the Kirby Family? And can that contract be broken? We could rename it the Kirby Municipal Services Building.

There will also be a huge pushback from the Pavilion’s Board of Directors who will argue that the education provided at the Science Center is tied in with the total mission of the WP. I don’t disagree with that, but there has to be a point where we use some common sense. People also fear failure, and are willing to throw (tax payer) money at something long enough to cover up the problem.

The way I look at it, it would be beneficial to the Pavilion to cut ties with the science center, they could use the extra revenue to bring in more shows to the Great Hall and VAC. Of course the backwards thinking in the building by some of it’s directors probably enjoy being in the hole every year to give them excuse to come crawling for more money each year. They apparently need to spend some time over at the ZOO and learn how to make a great institution while slowly weaning themselves off the tit.

Also, our mayor who argues for fiscal prudence all the time should be falling over himself to secure such a great idea.

Once again though, the common sense of a blogger is usually trumped by the spend happy bureaucrats that run this city. Let’s face it, this isn’t about getting the best deal on an administration building we may or may not need, this about another handout to some local contractors who are buds with the mayor and some of the city council.

Mr. Schroeder, I figured out the scam years ago

This interview with Shaine pretty much sums up my experience with Arts Night. (I used to hear the rich and influential in Sioux Falls liked Arts Night so they could pickup cheap original art for gifts;

The Pavilion has gotten better, but I remember when I participated in their Arts Night a while back, and they sent out in the invitations to everybody to come to the auction. The invitations had the wrong date on it. This shit is so simple you guys. Who the heck is the head of marketing? You can put this all in the interview, because I want this to be common knowledge.
Here’s the thing that really gets me: you guys [The Pavilion] are approaching artists, who don’t make shit in the first place, some of us do, but even that ebbs and flows. Artists can have a good month and then the next five will be fucking terrible. Everybody’s been there. The Pavilion is asking us to basically donate our time and the money, for nothing, and you can’t even get the  date right? It’s so ridiculous to me. They offer like 25% if it sells, or would you like a ticket to come and cry and watch your stuff sell? It’s painful. I’ve done it three times now, and this was the last one. It will be the last one forever. The two before, I was pumped. I got the People’s Choice award two years in a row, and I was like, fuck yeah this is cool. That was when you didn’t have any option to get a commission, you just got a ticket. I had to fight tooth and nail for a second ticket, which I never even ended up getting.
I was surprised because I thought maybe that [piece] would bring a little bit higher bid, since I had won that award, and I was like, ok this’ll be cool. It was something that normally I would’ve sold for, I think $2,000 and they started the bid-this was back when they didn’t have reserves-they started the bid out at $100.  I think it ended up selling for like $250. Then they had the gall to come over and get me from the table and be like, “Shaine, this is so-and-so, they just bought your piece, would you like to meet them and shake their hand?” Fucking hardest handshake of my life.

What Would Pettigrew Think? – Wayne Fanebust

I asked local author Wayne Fanebust to write a guest post about what would Pettigrew think of modern day Sioux Falls.

R.F. Pettigrew served in the U. S. Senate from 1889, the year South Dakota became a state, until 1901, when he was defeated by the McKinley/Hanna Republican machine. Before, during and after he served in the senate, he was strenuously devoted to making Sioux Falls into a great city. What would he think of his creation as it exists today?  My response to that question will be based upon my biography of the man entitled: Echoes of November, the Life and Times of Senator R. F. Pettigrew from South Dakota.  Doing the research enabled me to get to know him well.

Pettigrew first came to Sioux Falls in 1869, as a member of a federal surveying company. The town, begun in 1856, had been abandoned and destroyed in 1862 by the Sioux Indians.  In its place was a military installation called Fort Dakota.  The twenty-year old Pettigrew camped out with his comrades at or near the Fort.  He fell in love with the area and while sitting around a campfire, he must have seen a city in the making.  Most certainly he understood the raw potential for a great city near the powerful and roaring falls.  He was young, well-educated, and he possessed a keen and powerful intellect, along with a single-minded personality. He was ideally suited to building a city from scratch and he was in the right place at the right time to do it.

Since he was a self-made man, as the 19th century expression went, he admired men who pulled themselves up by their boot straps and carved out successful lives on the frontier.  Pettigrew was a capitalist in accordance with the parlance of his time, but he was a main-street, not a Wall Street, entrepreneur.  Since he identified with the “mom and pop” businesses, he would today, be pleased to see so many small businesses, restaurants and shops in Sioux Falls. But because his hatred of the “gold bugs” in New York, he would be displeased to see brokerage firms on the city streets.  Perhaps, however, his dislike for “wall street gamblers,” would be tempered by the presence of the SEC that regulates the sale of stock.  He most certainly would have approved of regulating the markets.

In politics, Pettigrew evolved from a stalwart Republican to a Populist, and finally to the Democratic Party.  He left the party of Lincoln when he saw that it was no longer the party of Lincoln. He became thoroughly caught up in the progressive movement of his time and therefore would be proud to see that Sioux Falls has a public transportation system and regulated utilities because he believed that such things as lights, water and sewerage should be run for service rather than for profit.  The interstate highway running through Sioux Falls would be especially pleasing to Pettigrew because he and his fellow progressive fought for a federally funded interstate highway system, with railroads, of course. The city park system would meet with his approval too.

In his time, anyone who stood in the way of progress was derisively called a “kicker” or a “croaker.”  That label was freely applied to anyone who did not pitch and do his part to help Sioux Falls grow.  Pettigrew was a pushy, “get with it or get out of the way” kind of man and often prodded other city leaders when he felt that they were lacking in energy and dedication.  When he wanted something, he wanted it desperately.     With this in mind, Pettigrew would be pleased to see that Sioux Falls had facilities such as the Washington Pavilion and the Event Center, because these projects would be seen by him as people coming together for the public good. New ideas were always welcome in his circle of allies.  Enough talking, let’s do it!  No one in his time would ever accuse him of thinking anything but big.  For example, the Queen Bee Mill was one of his projects.  He took pride in it even though it was a colossal failure.

He would be very proud that his city, Sioux Falls, was far ahead of other South Dakota cities—especially Yankton–in population and innovation. The Yankton oligarchy and its newspapers treated him roughly in the territorial era, and he never forgave them.  The size of Sioux Falls would surprise him, but since he was fond of the farmer, the sprawling city with concrete and asphalt covering up the good soil, would have been cause for concern. He was not a scientist but he believed in science and after seeing how new technology creates greater crop yields he probably would come to terms with the loss of acreage under the plow.

Pettigrew was a believer in education for he understood that a culture that does not educate its people is doomed to fail; it will descend into a spiral of crime and punishment. Therefore the great proliferation of schools in the city would please him.  Seeing his name of an elementary school would have given him great pleasure. Thank you very much; you didn’t forget me after all. While he never joined a church, he understood the importance of churches in the overall health of a community and seeing that so many existed would have caused him to nod in the affirmative.  Although he was not religious, he understood that religion can form the basis of good morality.

He did not have time for art or music, but once again, he understood their value to a city.  In the 1890’s he had plans for constructing a grand “Pettigrew Opera House” on Phillips Avenue. Therefore the music and other entertainment venues that we have today would meet with his approval.  In other words, he would have voted in favor of creating the Pavilion and building the EC, but would have insisted that they be built with local talent, materials and labor. In his lifetime, he valued local stone and promoted its use for building, and seeing that we saved the old Washington High School building would put a gleam of approval in his eye. The same for the federal building constructed in 1894, on 12th and Phillips; it was his baby that came to fruition during his time in the Senate.

The development along 41st Street would be a real eye-opener to Pettigrew for it was along that street that he envisioned and created an industrial suburb that was known as South Sioux Falls. The financial crash of 1893 disrupted and then destroyed his plans, and that of his fellow investors. Therefore seeing it developed and thriving, and providing jobs would have validated, to a certain extent, his dream for doing some similar.

Above all else, Pettigrew was a politician; he loved the give and take, the debate, the hard struggle to get votes and win office.  For decades he was thoroughly immersed in the world of politics and he knew full-well how it can, in turns, unite and divide. He was also all too familiar with the smoke-filled, back-room deal-making that could make or break a politician. It was dirty business but he grew to power because he knew how to do it well.  For this reason, nothing that the local government does today would concern him at all. In fact, he would probably look upon our system as superior to that of his day, when deal making ruled the political process and the average person was completely left out. Although far from perfect, our process is less corrupt than the system of Pettigrew and his fellow travelers.

As Pettigrew’s thinking evolved, his political system made room for women, farmers and working people. Late in life he spoke out in favor of a more inclusive political discourse and involvement.  He believed that the people who did work, created the wealth, and therefore the working people were entitled to a fair share of the wealth that they created. In his mind, the ruling classes only manipulated wealth and therefore their contributions were weak. As such, he would be disappointed to learn that wages in this country had stagnated and that the billionaire class had unfairly claimed the lion’s share of the wealth.  The poverty, hardship and hunger caused by low wages would have forced him to conclude that our political and social system was failing because it created and tolerated the income gap. That South Dakota is a low-wage state would make him angry. He would take to the stump and tell people to grab their pitchforks and ax-handles and take to the streets.

There is one development in Sioux Falls that I believe would impress him to the core, and come close to bringing him to tears.  When he died, Pettigrew willed his home and its contents, including his historical and archeological collections, library and personal papers to the city.  It was his wish that the city create a museum and library that the public would have access to for educational purposes.  But because of his “radical” ideas (public libraries, female suffrage, fair wages, direct election of U. S. senators, to name a few) the city rulers were not at all anxious to follow his wishes.  Nevertheless, the old haters died, good sense finally prevailed and Pettigrew would be very, very proud to see his home and the Old Courthouse, combined into the Siouxland Heritage Museums.  For Pettigrew wanted to be remembered by the people of the city he worked so hard to build.


Echoes of November, The Life and Times of Senator R. F. Pettigrew of South Dakota

This is a comprehensive biography of Sen. R. F. Pettigrew, the first full-term Senator from the state.  He went from a young, ambitious man on the wild Dakota frontier to the U. S. Senate.  Pettigrew was a leader in the fight for the division of Dakota Territory and the admission to the Union.  A man of vision, intellect and controversy, he became one of America’s premier political figures.  He served two terms in the Senate and among his noted accomplishments was a law that created the National Forest system.  He and other renegade Republicans bolted the 1896 National Convention, joining the Populist movement.  Late in his second term, Pettigrew was a leader in the Anti-Imperialist League that arose out of the U. S. invasion of the Philippine Islands.  Pettigrew’s attacks on the McKinley administration raised caused his name to become a household word. During World War I, his outspoken opposition to America’s involvement in the war resulted in an indictment under a law that punished anti-war speech.  Pettigrew was never brought to trial although President Woodrow Wilson wanted very much to imprison him.  He died in 1926.

456 pages including photographs, reference notes and index. It was published in 1997.


Wayne Fanebust was born in Sioux Falls, SD and raised “out in the country” always living near Sioux Falls, except for a short stay in Iowa.  His early years were entirely rural and my elementary education was attained in small, wooden country schoolhouses.

He graduated from Washington High School in Sioux Falls, joined the United States Marine Corps and was stationed at Camp Pendleton, California.

In the fall of 1964, after being discharged from the Marine Corps, he attended one semester of college at Augustana College. But music was in his blood, so in 1965 Wayne moved to Los Angeles and pursued a career as a rock ‘n roll musician and songwriter. As a guitar player he sang and performed in rock bands in Los Angeles in the mid-and late 60’s.

It was while he was a student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, that he acquired an interest in history.  He took a course called “History of the American West” and found he was fascinated with the frontier experience and how it shaped the American character.  He graduated with a degree in history from UCLA in 1973.

Wayne attended law school at Western State University College of Law in San Diego and received a Juris Doctor of Law Degree.  He was admitted to the California bar in 1980.  He entered into private law practice in San Diego and maintained a law office until 1993 when he returned to Sioux Falls for a career change.  After 14 years of work as a corporate attorney in Sioux Falls, he is now retired from professional life and is very active in the business of writing.

His most recent book is Major General Alexander M. McCook, USA, A Civil War Biography.

 Other books include Echoes of November, The Life and Times of Senator R. F. Pettigrew of South Dakota and Cavaliers of the Dakota Frontier