Entries Tagged 'Washington Pavilion' ↓

UPDATE: Washington Pavilion Annual Meeting

UPDATE: So this is interesting. About 2 weeks ago someone told me that the Pavilion holds their Annual Meeting in June of each year (traditionally) usually the 3rd or 4th week of the month. So I get one of my city friends to ask one of their Pavilion friends. They confirmed it was today, but never got a time. My assumption was it would be at noon during a board meeting. I called the general information line yesterday to confirm a time, I told the operator I was looking for the time of the ‘Annual Meeting’. I was very clear that was the meeting I was looking for. He politely grabbed the schedule for today and said, “Yup, 8 AM, Belbas Theater”. While I found the time to be unusual, I stopped holding my breath about the way they do things at the Pavilion years ago.

This morning I showed up to the Belbas, and before the meeting started I noticed on the big screen that it was a meeting about radio protocols. Darrin Smith was there, so I asked him. “Isn’t this the annual meeting?” He said, “Oh no.” I asked if they have an annual meeting, he said, “Well, kinda.” I asked when it was? Darrin replies,  “We just kinda make one of our board meetings an annual meeting.” Then he offered to have lunch sometime.

Maybe lesson learned here is not to post about meetings before they have them? But trust me, I know the bigger lesson here.

A local economic impact study that actually shows us the numbers

Of course, it did NOT come from city hall. That would go against their fierce opposition to transparency.

Findings reveal the non-profit arts and culture industry generates $104.5 million in total economic activity in the Sioux Falls area, supports 3,567 full-time equivalent jobs, generates $71.1 million in household income to local residents and generates $2.8 million in revenue to local government.

The Study found that on top of admission costs to events, arts and culture audiences spend an additional $30.35 per person per event. This figure is up from $21.57 reported in a similar study released in 2012. The effect of these dollars is felt throughout the local economy: organizations pay employees, purchase supplies, contract for services, and acquire assets within the community while audiences spend money locally on meals, hotel rooms, and gas, among other things. The ripple effect of arts and culture spending in Sioux Falls amounts to $84.8 million annually.

Add to this the $20.8 million spent by arts and cultural nonprofits themselves, the result is $105.4 million in cumulative economic activity in Sioux Falls.

What I found interesting is that while the Pavilion participated, SMG (Events Center) and the Convention Center did NOT. You would think that if both or either one participated, these numbers would look very different. But like I said already, that would require letting the public look at the books.

I have requested a full copy of the study.

UPDATE: What Would Pettigrew Think? – Wayne Fanebust

Wayne wrote this post for me back in November of 2015 and came to the city council meeting tonight to talk about it during public input.

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

Did Darrin Smith lose a power struggle at the Pavilion?

As we know, the Pavilion made some leadership changes this week;

Smith this month created and filled two new executive positions – a chief operating officer and a chief financial officer. Longtime Pavilion staffers John Seitz and Jane Hathaway, formerly the director of patron services and finance, respectively, started in their new roles May 11.

Smith said much of his first year focused on evaluating the Washington Pavilion’s operations while looking for ways to improve efficiency. Giving the pair of established staffers more authority to make decisions in his absence will streamline operations and allow Smith to spend more of his time fundraising, which should result in more revenues to support patron offerings.

What is even more glaring is that long time Operations VP, Jon Loos got to keep his job, now he is called ‘Director of Facility Services‘. So does he get to keep his current salary while doing less since Seitz is taking over those duties? Why keep Loos?

Remember Loos and Hathaway have been there since the inception of the Pavilion. Was there some disagreements with Smith’s leadership? Did the Board of Trustees step in? Many may not know, but the Board of Trustees are really who are in charge at the Pavilion. Are these changes in affect to let Smith to stick around until Huether leaves office?

It just seems very peculiar that in the short period of time Smith has been CEO he is already getting his leadership duties cut. Knowing Smith as long as I have, I can only speculate it wasn’t his idea. So what really happened?

Changes at the Pavilion

Not even sure what this even means;

Smith this month created and filled two new executive positions – a chief operating officer and a chief financial officer. Longtime Pavilion staffers John Seitz and Jane Hathaway, formerly the director of patron services and finance, respectively, started in their new roles May 11.

So my question is what is the difference between the Chief Operating Officer and Jon Loos’ position, VP of Operations? Darrin says these are two NEW positions, but why would the CEO & President need a COO and a VPO?

So will somebody be leaving quietly in the night?

This is a good start, but can you fill in the blanks?

I guess the CVB has been listening to my requests for economic impact of the Events Center and other entertainment venues in the city;

“When there’s something big going on in town, people are at gas stations, filling up their cars to drive home.  They’re eating in the restaurants.  They’re shopping all over the town,” Schmidt said.

All of this made for a lucrative 2016.  Schmidt says concerts, plays, sporting events, conventions — you name it — brought nearly $500 million into the city.

Hey this is great, but without details, it’s just all fluff. I would like to see the formula the CVB used to come to these conclusions, I would also not only like to see the sales figures of the EC but of all the entertainment venues. We own, operate, take care of and pay the mortgages of these facilities, we have a right to see the numbers.

This story was just a teaser that leaves me with more questions.

UPDATE: The Pavilion’s strange job posting for the VAC Director

UPDATE: The job posting has REAPPEARED.

The job posting and job description was created on April 4, as you can see above (DOC:VAC Director April 2017) but the Pavilion didn’t post it to their employment page until today, for a short period of time that is, then poof it was gone. Even though it still exists on the interwebs, for now.

There is some legal hoops an organization like the Pavilion has to jump through when posting a job to the public, apparently for a couple of hours is OK.

So why wouldn’t they have posted the job longer then a few hours? Could be a glitch in the website, but my guess is that a candidate was already picked before the job was posted to the public. I guess we will have to wait and see if the new director (if they picked someone already) has any ‘connections’ to the board or other dignitaries in Sioux Falls. If not, then they need to have a long talk with their webmaster.

Longtime Marketing Manager at the Pavilion flies the coop

Not sure what happened to Wellman, but after the VAC director quit, it seems there may be some dissatisfaction with new Sheriff Smith;

The Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science in Sioux Falls seeks a Director of Marketing to join our senior management team. Under the supervision of the President, the Director of Marketing plans, executes and manages all marketing and promotional strategies and programs of the Pavilion, all of which are aimed at increasing the audiences, attendance, members, donors and rental clients of the Pavilion. This position holds a key leadership role, and in collaboration with other members of the senior staff, manages the brand, marketing and promotion of the Pavilion in pursuit of its mission and values.

Darrin is accomplishing one thing, sucking all kinds of building improvements out of the CIP. However, I have been told that Darrin is much more popular then past directors (with the minions).

Pavilion still taking money through the backdoor

Recently the Pavilion was bragging about making more money under the new direction of Darrin Smith, which is great. What is NOT mentioned is the taxpayers are on the hook for maintenance for the building thru the CIP. Over the past year the Pavilion has bled millions from the CIP for upgrades, and it continues into 2017 (approval of contracts).

Like the Events Center, taxpayers are on the hook for maintenance while the management companies only have to worry about operational expenses. It’s easy to say a facility is making NET but if the citizens still have to support it through the backdoor, what really is the true financial success?

The ‘Real’ cost of the Washington Pavilion

Yes, another ‘rosy’ story about our shining purple giant downtown. Things are not so bad afterall;

Looking to build on the progress of his predecessors Larry Toll and Scott Petersen, who served as co-presidents during the Pavilion’s first profitably successful years, Smith is going all in on giving the 350,000-square-foot facility a makeover, authorizing a three-quarter-million investment in the three-level Kirby Science Discovery Center, new paint throughout the building and nearly a half-million worth of new flooring on the way. More changes are planned for the year with a restructure of the attraction’s front lobby and more big dollar investments in the upper floors.

Sounds great doesn’t it? We’ll get back to above paragraph;

While final numbers aren’t in yet, Smith said 2016 will mark another year of gains for the Pavilion and the projection for 2017 is another year in the black. All the while, the amount of public dollars the facility is relying on continues to decrease.

Historically, the annual contribution from the city’s entertainment tax has made up about 20 percent or more of the Pavilion’s operating budget – which was around $7.5 million last year. In 2016, 22 percent of its budget was covered with taxpayer dollars, but that’s expected to dip to 17 percent in 2017, Smith said.

“It will always be important for the city to play a role in supporting it, but I also think a lot of people would like to see the private portion of the pie get larger every year,” he said. “So were going to take a pretty significant jump toward achieving that.

Bravo to Smith for getting subscriber and member numbers up, bravo also to him for trying to reduce the (operational) subsidy. But don’t be fooled by the numbers. Like the Events Center, while the Pavilion may be tackling it’s operational expenses, the maintenance and mortgage doesn’t come cheap, and doesn’t come from operational.

Back to to the first paragraph of the story;

authorizing a three-quarter-million investment in the three-level Kirby Science Discovery Center, new paint throughout the building and nearly a half-million worth of new flooring on the way. More changes are planned for the year with a restructure of the attraction’s front lobby and more big dollar investments in the upper floors.

What is not evident in this story is that these ‘investments’ don’t come from the Pavilion’s operational budget, they don’t even come from private investors. Since the city owns the Pavilion (building) we are responsible for all new construction and maintenance. The WP Management doesn’t spend one single penny on these things. The money comes from our 2nd penny CIP, the same place where are road money comes from. So every time the Pavilion spends $500K on carpeting, that is $500K less spent on filling potholes. It’s easy to talk about the operational success of a facility when you have a separate entity subsidizing your structure. It would be like having a retail business in a building that you don’t have to pay a lease on.

It seems Smith learned well from his old boss at city hall. Smoke and Mirrors.