Entries Tagged 'Washington Pavilion' ↓

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

Rosanne Cash at the Pavilion


She finished the show with this song tonight. I never cried so much to country songs. Right before the picture I told her how much my mom and I loved her father’s music. What a wonderful night, thank you to the Washington Pavilion Visual Arts Center you are still the premier entertainment place in town. In the above picture with Rosanne and me and cameraman Bruce is David Mann – Tour Manager & Soundman.

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The Washington Pavilion doesn’t have a plan? GET OUT!

I have to tell you, there has been some pretty ridiculous things said by directors over at the big purple building in past years, but for once, one of them finally told us the truth(?);

Michele Wellman, public relations director for the Pavilion, said the strategic makeup of the front office isn’t set nor is a timeline for determining how the organization will move forward.

“The board doesn’t have a final plan at all. At the moment, everything is up in the air,” she said, adding those interested in joining the Pavilion’s leadership team are encouraged to inquire.

Oh, they have a plan, a plan that they have relied on since day one of operation. Let the board of trustees run the joint through their ‘heavy’ in the building, the Operations Manager, Jon Loos.

Peterson and Toll are/were merely figure heads. The last time the President of the Pavilion even made an attempt at running the joint would have been Steve Hoffman, we saw how that turned out, he ran for the hills (well California). I will give Larry Toll credit for some things, he has been a heck of a fundraiser (calling his rich buddies to help out) in between afternoons sucking up cigar smoke on Phillips Avenue. But let’s not call in the big band just yet;

In 2009 when he came on, Wellman said the Pavilion was facing financial uncertainty and was struggling with a red budget.

“Larry came in at a critical time and turned the Pavilion around. He brought a brilliant business mind to manage the Pavilion,” she said. “We’ve been in the black for five years, so he dramatically turned around our financial status.”

Just when we thought we had a glimmer of hope the Pavilion would shoot it to us straight for once, they go and claim they know what ‘being in the black’ means. The Pavilion has NEVER been in the black, if you discount the subsidy they receive every year from the entertainment tax, and the fact that all the maintenance to the building is paid out of the CIP. The unfortunate part about tooting the black horn each year is that now the Events Center has started the same mantra complete with a bawling mayor press conference.

I have often said if you ever want the Washington Pavilion to have complete success and smooth sailing, you need to find a new management company and send Jon Loos and company packing. Who needs a ‘President’ when all the Pavilion really needs is a strong ‘Manager’.

Does the Pavilion and SculptureWalk realize this is a Knockoff of the Dutch Boy logo?

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People’s choice award, a house paint logo image. Maybe I should submit an Aunt Jamima or Pillsbury Dough Boy sculpture?

I often chuckle about the people who make the public art selections in this (boom)town.

Remember this People’s Choice winner from Sculpture Walk 2014 (created by Lee Leuning and Sherri Treeby)? It will soon have a new home in the Washington Pavilion’s main lobby as you walk up to the VAC. Thank you City of Sioux Falls – Municipal Government and SculptureWalk!


There is a sucker born everyday, and probably 2 or 3 in Sioux Falls. I also find the irony of the ‘Dutch Boy’ (Girl? Boy? Transgender?) actually painting a REAL painting and not a house to be funny. Do you think that Lee Leuning and Sherri Treeby (the artists) are having a little joke with us? Nah. They are not that clever.

Pavilion Roof Replacement, the estimates are in!

As I mentioned in March, this was going to cost the city a pretty penny;


At that time, one of my commenters said this (Consent Agenda, Item #1);

If existing parts of this roof were done prior to 1997 or so there would be the need to install over flow roof drains and to be careful to not create dust etc if old insulation has asbestos the job could easily climb to 1.5 million or so. The one big item will be to restore or design for crickets,roof drains and insulation products. A&E May design but if fiddle faddle has to control constructive change orders then tax payer will get screwed again.

Not far off.

Like I said in March, it needs to be done. But the bigger question is why wasn’t it done right to begin with? 14-15 years later, and we have to replace the roof on a refurbished building for over a million bucks?

The worst part about this is it has nothing to do with the Washington Pavilion Management, it has to do with the construction mis-management. It makes you question new facilities like the EC and the Indoor Pool. What kind of hidden maintenance costs are creeping up on us? Heck, we still don’t know what is going on with the botched siding job.

Also, why was this BURIED in the consent agenda? Over $1.2 Million and they expect the council to just blow it off?

Blast from the past, my 2003 Arts Night entry

Scott's art night 2003

I think the ‘then’ CEO of Avera bought the piece. I can’t even remember the name of the piece.

Is the Pavilion too small to put on the ‘big shows’

Well according to the Fargo City Commission, that may be the case. They are considering re-purposing their civic center into a performance facility, and one of the commissioner’s had this to say about the Pavilion (DOC, Page 4: web150105)


A troublesome look at the Pavilion’s finances

After looking at the Pavilion’s finances from 2014 compared to 2013 (Item A), I think it is time the city looks at bringing in a new management company.

Finance Doc (WPMI-OF)

While the Pavilion brought in over $800K more in 2014 at the end of the day, they had $63K less leftover then in 2013.

So what sticks out?

• Admission and ticket sales were up $757K from last year, which is a good thing, so where were the falters?

• Salary and benefits are almost $3.7 million dollars of their almost $7.5 million dollar budget (half of their entire budget) while programming is only $1.6 million of their budget.

• No major increase in the marketing budget.

• Memberships were down from 2013 (this is after they eliminated individual memberships and now charge to enter the VAC)

• Since it is a city owned building, all maintenance and upgrades to the building come from our CIP (2nd Penny) and not the Pavilion’s budget.

While the Pavilion claims they are an asset to our community, it seems they spend very little on actual programming and a lot on their employees, many from management, including the Operations manager and I believe the Finance Director have been there since day one.

It’s time the city explores a new management company to revamp the Pavilion, and truly make it a place for everyone (as was promised from the beginning).

It breaks my heart sometimes that a building I supported, worked at, donated to and exhibited in has lost it’s way due to poor management, and the finances are just the tip of the iceberg.