Entries Tagged 'Washington Pavilion' ↓

Is the Washington Pavilion Planning Cuts?

Well certainly not on carpeting;


In their defense though, the place has had the same carpeting for almost 17 years, so it is probably due for an update.

But what about staff? It certainly is a building that has seen many staff and management changes throughout the years. They are on their 5th CEO, they have had I think four VAC directors. The Science Center, the Performing Arts Center, Box Office, Education/Learning center and the Marketing departments have seen many changes over the years. Their have been two constants though over the years, the CFO and the Operations Manager have been there since day one.

Darrin has been in charge several months now, so I’m sure mixing up management has been in his craw for quite awhile, but not sure what he will do?

I will say this about Darrin though, he is NO pushover. Unlike past CEOs I think Darrin won’t be afraid to make changes on his terms.

Time will tell I guess.

Does Sioux Falls have any arts leadership in the public sector?

Wow. It was refreshing to hear someone besides myself (and who actually has a degree in these kind of things) speak out about the lack of cultural leadership in our community in the public sector;

I believe now is the correct strategic moment to consider renewed formal leadership for the Sioux Falls Arts Council, a position that has been covered in a transitional capacity for the past two years.

It’s actually been in a transitional period for over a decade. The Pavilion’s plan to kill the Sioux Empire Arts Council was successful, the problem was the Pavilion had no backup plan, and the mastermind of it all ran back to Brookings to do another job he wasn’t qualified for, well at least he isn’t damaging Norman Rockwell prints anymore.

It only took this letter writer one year working at the Pavilion to figure out it’s façade (it took me 4 years);

The Washington Pavilion has not, and does not look to be, a leader in concepts like larger community cultural issues, creative placemaking and community vibrancy.

That is because the Pavilion is there to protect itself, that’s why they dismantled a great FREE community arts program (SEAC) and renamed it, only further destroying what was a good organization to begin with. But hey, now we will have a butcher shop museum at Falls Park to replace it. At least now we all will know where milk and sausage comes from.

I have been suggesting for years it is time for the city to put out bids for a new Pavilion management contract. Others have even suggested that the entities in the building should be split up (separate the performance and entertainment halls from the arts center and science center). I don’t know what the solution is, but one thing is for certain, there needs to be a true leader to take the bull by the horns.

*For the record, I don’t know the author of this letter, and have never spoken with him.

Washington Pavilion releases 2015 annula report

Well it only took 8 months, put the Pavilion released their report, kind of. Notice the line at the bottom of the report;

‘Audited Financial Statements are available upon request.’

Looks like I have to make another trip to the Big Purple Building.


The Washington Pavilion has yet to present their 2015 annual report

Hey, it’s only July 14, these things take time folks.

The Pavilion holds their annual meeting of the Board of Trustees in June each year to go over the annual report. It is required by their bylaws and for their non-profit status. The report (externally audited or not) is presented at this public meeting. Or it should be . . .

A couple of weeks ago I tried to attain it online and called. It was not available. Today I went to the box office and requested a printed copy (something a non-profit must have on hand for the public). They called the finance director and she told them to instruct me that they were ‘still working on it.’ I left my business card (South DaCola) and told them to get a hold of me when it was available. As soon as I got home I had an email from the finance director that said this;

We are currently working with our auditors to complete the 2015 report, but here is a copy of the 2014 report.

The report should have been completed for the meeting, it should be available.

The irony of all this is that after 15 years we know the Pavilion will never be in the black, there is no big secret here, so why the delay?

The Pavilion just replaced their two CEO’s with Darrin Smith, and the Pavilion has received over 3 million dollars this year from our CIP for needed maintenance and repairs (this is not a part of our operational subsidy, this comes from the 2nd penny CIP, the same fund that repairs our infrastructure).

It may be true an external audit is happening, that is completely normal. But the initial report should be available.

Washington Pavilion’s vague 2015 financial graphic

wash pav one sheet

Click to Enlarge

The Pavilion got around to putting ‘something’ up on their website about 2015. It is short on details.

What amazes me, is that not only does the place receive millions in maintenance from the city’s CIP that is NOT included in their budget, but they have to depend on a 43% subsidy from the city and private donors. It still amazes me that after almost 15 years and a significant growth in population, the Pavilion can’t even break even.

Where is the Washington Pavilion’s 2015 Annual Report?


Seems they are taking a page from city hall, hiding financials as long as they can while getting millions from the CIP for facility upgrades on a building that is merely a teenager.

After the annual meeting held each June, the annual report is released. I have been told that the meeting was held, but as you can see, the annual report is NOT available online yet. or try;



Looks like Director Darrin Smith is off to good (non-transparent) start. He learned from the best.

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.