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.



3 comments ↓

#1 The D@ily Spin on 09.15.16 at 12:21 pm

The Pavilion should be privatized. City management is unqualified. A commercial arts and entertainment facility could be profitable. The sale at auction could be used to help satisfy long term bond debt. Even if it sells for one dollar, there’d be millions saved without the annual budget drain. Any of these new Huether entertainment sinkholes can be redeveloped and better managed with the private sector in charge.

#2 hornguy on 09.16.16 at 3:25 pm

I’m certainly not going to defend Pavilion management, but I spent plenty of time working in and around that building from 2007-13. And what I saw was an organization that had gotten whacked on the nose time and again for not being profitable enough. And the end result is an organization that takes virtually no chances on anything or anyone, is mostly content to bring in milquetoast touring theater and light-classical programs like Three Irish Tenors, Celtic Woman, etc. because they can move tickets for it.

Any thriving arts non-profit needs to know that it has financial and community backing that will allow it to prosper even if not every show, or every exhibit, or every venture is a financial winner. But that’s also a bit of a chicken/egg argument. I can appreciate why some would look at that board and say, given years of evidence, why would we want to stick our neck out?

I know Scott has shared a lot of great ideas here and elsewhere over the years on ways to expand the reach of the Pavilion, get more people through the doors, be more relevant in the community. But sadly, like too many arts groups in what is still a relatively conservative town, the Pavilion is scared of its own shadow. It would rather be comfortably boring and balance its books at the end of the year because that’s what its comfortably boring board members want.

#3 l3wis on 09.16.16 at 10:54 pm

I would agree HG, and the reason why the EC has taken the approach that they will not internally promote shows, why take the risk?

The other issue is when you have very ‘un-artistic’ folks run an ‘artistic’ organization, you get what you get.