Entries Tagged 'Washington Pavilion' ↓

Washington Pavilion Management contract renewal

As I have already blogged about recently the Pavilion’s contract is up for renewal on January 1st. I believe it is a 5-year contract that will have to probably be renewed in October or November.

I know with all the talk about the Golf Contract and the secrecy surrounding contracts recently, I’m just wondering if there has been any talks about changing some terms with the Pavilion before renewal? The last city audit I could find I think was 9 years ago (don’t quote me on that, the city council probably has better access to those).

Besides an audit, the ONE thing on my wish list for change of terms is making the visual arts center (the galleries) FREE admission again as promised in the original contract. Obviously they would have to charge something for international/special exhibits like Rodin and Warhol, but for regional and even National work, I think the admission should be FREE for all AGAIN.

Believe it or not, I don’t think Darrin Smith would be opposed to that proposal. I talked to someone who saw the last couple of internal audits and they said the Pavilion only takes in approximately $15K in admissions since they implemented it. That could easily be covered by a couple of sponsors or grants.

I am also concerned with all the entertainment tax money that is being poured into the place. I would much rather see the money be spent on paying down the EC mortgage.

With all of the talk about letting the sunshine finally in on the Huether Administration, I think the City Council could use this contract renewal as a good experiment moving forward on contract awards, and their involvement in that process.


UPDATE: Sioux Falls City Council will approve easement for Arc of Dreams ‘SOON’

I asked the city council on Tuesday night if there have been any permits approved for Arc of Dreams. After not hearing anything, I emailed them tonight the same question. One of the councilors responded that the council will be presented a public right of way easement soon to approve. Good to hear.

UPDATE: I also got this response from the city;

Mr. Ehrisman,

Thank you for your recent inquiry about the “Arc of Dreams” sculpture permitting process.  No permits have been issued at this time.

In your email, you were correct in that the sculpture is on private property and over public property. Therefore, a grant of easement by the City of Sioux Falls for the “Arc of Dreams” sculpture is currently in process.  The City Attorneys Office has drafted a resolution and associated easement documents for the “Arc of Dreams” sculpture.

On August 15, 2017, the “Arc of Dreams” sculpture was reviewed and recommended for placement approval during public meetings by both the Visual Arts Commission and the Parks and Recreation Board.  The proposed resolution is scheduled for public hearing consideration at the City Council’s regular Tuesday, September 19, 2017, meeting.  Pending adoption of the resolution, and receipt of project plan submittals for City review, then appropriate City permits will be determined and required.

It is anticipated that site construction will begin this fall, with sculpture installation completed by August 2018.  Associated installation and maintenance costs for this sculpture will be the responsibility of SculptureWalk, and not the City of Sioux Falls.

I hope this information helps with your inquiry.

Russ Sorenson• 9-08-2017

Urban Planner • City Of Sioux Falls

Sorry, but I still struggle with the concept that the fine individuals who run the very successful SculptureWalk program for our city would commission a now $1.6 million dollar sculpture before having at least a conditional or preliminary permit or permission from the city. Someone signed off on this a long time ago and now they are just going through the motions.

It reminds of the guy I saw once at the Board of Adjustments, he was requesting to build a bigger garage. His reasoning? Because his new truck didn’t fit in the old garage. He was denied.


I found this interesting that this is going thru the city as an RFP. Or maybe this is how this has always been done?

A question that I was asked recently was if the Kirby family is still sponsoring the Kirby Science Center or if that was a one time gift? I have NO idea.

Also two long time directors have ‘LEFT’.

Darrin Smith seems to be shaking things up at the Pavilion and spending a lot of money. Not sure if this is a good thing or not?

Washington Pavilion Management looking to renew contract in October

The Washington Pavilion is looking to renew their 5-Year contract in October of this year (The current contract runs until December 31, 2017). The first I heard about this, and most of the councilors was yesterday during the budget hearings.

Besides the fact that SMG has been salivating for years to get the contract on the only room in the building that makes any money, the Great Hall, I am wondering if the Pavilion contract has ever been put out for bid? Or like the external auditor contract, we just pick someone in the dark of the night?

I think with the recent move to allow other entities to bid on our public golf course contract, it might not hurt to open up the bidding for the PAV.

Even if they don’t, the council should have oodles of questions for the current management team. It has been NO secret for years that the Great Hall makes the Pavilion money. Mainly because the Pavilion controls it’s own ticket sales and much of it’s promotion of shows (something they need to do at the Events Center). Do they make money on all of their shows? No, but year after year, the Great Hall has been profitable, very profitable. I think the only time the Great Hall probably didn’t make money was during the economic downturn in 2008-09. The Visual Arts Center has always kind of broke even. Mostly through grants, etc. and there skeleton staff. The Science center has always been a money pit. The problem is that the Pavilion doesn’t split up the accounting for the 3 departments. In other words, even if the Great Hall makes money, there is an appearance of loss due to the Science Center because all of the money sits in one kitty. This needs to change with the new contract.

The Pavilion has also had some major management changes over the past year, not just with the new Director, Darrin Smith, but some long time managers have said bye-bye.

So why is it important that the city council dig deep before signing another 5 year contract?

The last internal city Audit was in 2008

The last 5 year contract was signed in October 2012 (Item #31)

Last annual report presentation to city council was in 2014

As you can see, besides the Pavilion spending millions over the past couple of years in building upgrades sliding under the radar in the consent agenda and taking money from the lucrative money tree called the entertainment tax, there has been very little transparency since the last time they signed a contract.

It’s time for the council to really pull up their boot straps and dig deep, and ask the important questions before blindly signing another contract.

The Pavilion must be getting VERY desperate for VAC directors

TV Host, Cartoonist, Artist, Youth Director . . . there isn’t nothing this guy can’t do.

I had to take a double take when I read this;

The Visual Arts Center in Sioux Falls will have a new leader starting next month.

The Washington Pavilion announced Thursday that Jason Folkerts has accepted the position and will start on August 2.

Before joining the staff at the Washington Pavilion, Folkerts graduated from the University of Sioux Falls and worked as a youth pastor for 12 years. He is also a full-time artist and owns his own business that specializes in murals, cartooning, and live art.

Folkerts used to be the editorial cartoonist for the Argus Leader. He was relieved of his duties after a couple of local cartoonists made the newspaper aware that he may have plagiarized a Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist. But the AL just couldn’t get enough of Jason’s work so they brought him back, until he was suspected a second time of plagiarizing another international cartoonist (who ironically was the president of an anti-plagiarizing organization). The AL relieved him permanently after that. (You can read all of Jason’s comments about the incident HERE in the comments section of this blog post).

Besides his lack of integrity when it comes to other artists creative property, what baffles me even more is that the Pavilion would hire an individual that doesn’t even have a degree in art, art management, etc. Heck, he doesn’t even have a degree in regular management or business, he is a youth pastor with a seminary degree.

Running a Visual Arts Center isn’t like running summer Bible Camp folks.

I have been told though that the qualifications for the position have been drastically changed since the last director left (it was also changed a little before she took the job).

The Pavilion management and board are apparently losing their freaking minds. There needs to be a National search for an ACTUAL art director with the experience to run such an important division of the Pavilion.

The city is tightening their belt? Fooled me.

If you look at this week’s council meeting (Item #1 – Consent) and the business bid notices you would think the city is awash in money for play things.

As you may or may not know, the penny entertainment tax came about to help pay the bonds on the Pavilion and Convention Center. Once the bonds were paid off the city has decided to keep collecting the cash cow and they haven’t been shy about throwing millions at the Pavilion over the last couple of years. But what is even more puzzling is the $300K in lighting upgrades to a $117 million dollar building that is practically new. I have a feeling more and more there was a lot of ‘unfinished’ work to the EC to keep it under the price tag amount, including a half-ass siding job.

Remember when the city council recently approved a new snowcat groomer for Great Bear because they ‘might’ have to change a couple of hydraulics on the old one? Now they want new snowmakers. One portable snowmaker runs between $2,500-$12,000 each.

Funny how the mayor says he is tightening the city’s belt, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at these expenditures.

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?