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?
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 moneyÂ 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.