Entries Tagged 'Washington Pavilion' ↓

Events Center Complex loses $2.5 million in past year

Of course, it was no surprise they lost this much, it was just a little unusual we heard it at a SF City Council informational meeting from the finance director. The complex (EC, CC and Arena) was probably expected to lose money during Covid, but as I have mentioned over the past few days and weeks, the Denty hasn’t exactly been that stellar in attendance for well over a year and trust me, the bleeding of the complex will continue well into 2021.

What was not included in the discussion is the $10 million a year bond payment the taxpayers will continue to have to pay out of our 2nd penny (which should be spent on needed infrastructure and roads). We will also have to keep the lights and heat on as well and timely maintenance while the city’s finance director has given sponsors a pass on paying their dues.

While the management company has said they laid off many people, what they didn’t mention is if the executives took a pay cut? I mean really? What are you doing right now? I can only imagine they have all built George Costanza beds under their desks. Why not just furlough the entire management company until we can start booking shows again? Why are the taxpayers subsidizing these salaries?

The Washington Pavilion, as I understand, cut 25% of their workforce, for that very reason, if you have no shows, you don’t need people to work them.

As I said, the Denty was already bleeding, and this place will eventually become the dented up yolk around taxpayers necks for decades. I don’t expect the place to turn a profit again for at least 5 years, but that’s okay, we can keep digging into the taxpayer’s pockets even though almost 50% voted against it.

Taxpayers may have to bailout the Pavilion

Hey, I don’t blame the Pavilion for having to cancel their shows, Covid has wreaked havoc on the entertainment industry;

The Washington Pavilion has canceled its 2020-21 Performance Series, which would have brought hit shows such as “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Hairspray” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” to Sioux Falls.

Many Broadway tours have been put on hold or canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a letter to supporters, the Pavilion said it is working to rebook as many shows from this season as it can for next season.

This will hit the Pavilion hard since they depend on this revenue to float them each year. In fact the Pavilion has made money from these shows over the years and if they didn’t have to float the arts center and science centers (which lose money) the Pavilion would have been very profitable. The problem is they don’t split the pot of money up between the entities, they just move it around.

Of course they have a plan, not a very good one mind you;

While refunds will still be offered, the loss of the tours has put the Pavilion “in a very challenging situation,” Smith said. “As a nonprofit reliant on ticket sales, sponsorships and gifts of support from the community, the loss of these tours – a $3 million impact – has put the organization in a very challenging situation. We are asking our loyal customers – if they are able – for their support at this unprecedented time.”

In all reality, it will probably be the taxpayers that will have to bailout the Pavilion during this down economy. But we have already been giving it millions in maintenance for years. It is what I suspected it would turn into, a money pit, and the Events Center and Aquatic Center are not to far behind.

Want to practice social distancing? Visit the Pavilion’s Visual Arts Center


I decided to break down today and pay the entrance fee to the Pavilion’s VAC to see the latest exhibit of the permanent collection. It was nice, because in the over an hour I was there, there wasn’t a single soul in the joint. Why? Because it cost me an astounding $15 dollars and change to get in. I have never paid this much to enter the MOMA in San Fran, the Institute in Chicago or Minneapolis or the DAM in Denver. Not sure why the Pavilion thinks charging this much to see dusty old paintings is worth that? But it’s all about the Benjamins with the Pavilion these days, even recently making the city subsidize them for low income visitors even though the taxpayers already own the building and subsidize the place each year in management and maintenance. I guess the millions we throw at them already isn’t enough.

While it was nice to see an impressive permanent collection without worrying about people coughing the covid babies on me, I was unimpressed by the lackluster presentation. Not only were most of the exhibits not labeled, the salon style of the exhibition had many great works up in the rafters where you could not view them. Maybe if I dropped another $15 dollars I could get a scissor lift to assist my viewing.

This is what happens when you turn an arts center over to a money grubbing Executive Director and a Cartoonist Department head. Enjoy wiping your butts with my $15 dollars.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Kiley thinks people care about parapets (that they probably don’t even know exist)

I attended the Sioux Falls City Council informational meeting and testified at the end during public input.

The council had a presentation on the replacement of the cornice and parapet on the roof of the Pavilion. I won’t revisit that.

Several councilors, including councilor Erickson leading the charge pretty much said that the parapet probably doesn’t need to be replaced, and the architects admitted that it really doesn’t harm the historical designation.

I appreciate the honesty.

Then Rick Kiley opened his mouth. He said that he thinks people do care about the parapet replacement. Not sure if he took that poll from his butt, but I’m sure it wasn’t scientific.

During public input I reminded the council;

• The Washington Pavilion has taken the lion’s share of the entertainment tax for over 20 years.

• That tax should have sun-setted after the bonds were paid off, taking $10 million a year out of our private entertainment economy.

• The Pavilion’s attendance numbers haven’t really increased that much over the past 21 years.

• Why doesn’t the Pavilion raise money for capital improvements privately? The Zoo has raised millions for capital projects privately (taxpayers own the Zoo – just like we own the Pavilion).

• The roof and parapet should have been fixed when remodeling the facility, not 21 years later.

But what I said at the end was that Rick Kiley thinks people care about the project. I told him that most people don’t even know this discussion is going on, and most people don’t even know what the parapet is or that it is even exists, I stressed that while people are dodging pot holes in this city, they ‘don’t give a rip’ about parapets.

Sioux Falls City Council financial update reveals some interesting tidbits

I guess I missed the first part of the informational meeting where financial director Mr. Pritchett revealed some interesting things going on. I appreciate Shawn’s honesty.

The first thing he reveals is that Sioux Empire Community Theatre owes SMG or Global, or whatever they are calling themselves these days $74K for past rentals of the Orpheum and that they have an agreement to pay $1,000 a month until it is paid up. What a deal! The Pavilion, which runs the Orpheum now requires the SECT to pay rent for events now with 50% up front.

Then there is the Event Center that actually pulled in less revenue last year, but get this, made a bigger profit (according to Global). I guess when you don’t have to pay anybody (part-timers) to work events (because very few are going on) you make more money. Go figure. I wonder if we mothballed the place we could make even more money!

We also found out why we had to ‘repair’ the HVAC system at the Denty, because it has severely malfunctioned causing leaks in the roof and damage to the ceiling. So now we have the siding and the HVAC system, makes you wonder what other things we cut corners on. A former Denty employee told me once “Don’t lean too hard on the interior walls, you may fall thru.”

Speaking of leaky stuff, the Pavilion is requesting around $6 million to fix the roof and railing on the roof. Where are they getting their bids? Certainly not from Mitchell Roofing 🙂

We also got to hear about the deteriorating Sioux Falls Stadium and what we are going to do with that money pit, but that discussion really didn’t go anywhere – as usual.

Yet we need to charge non-profits who actually bring successful events into Sioux Falls that drive the economy $70 an hour, per officer, for police protection. Go figure. As one of my former co-workers used to say about our boss/owner of the company we worked for, “He’s concerned about pennies as dollars are flying out the window.”

It took the Pavilion 20 years to break their own attendance record

And I’m about to tell you why it took so long;

More than 100,000 visitors have passed through the Pavilion’s doors this year. That’s 4,000 more than the previous record which was set in 2000.

So why did this take 20 years?

When the Pavilion opened they hosted many FREE events, such as various community concerts. They also had special deals to get into the Kirby Science Center. But one of the greatest things that encouraged attendance was a FREE visual arts center (except for special and international exhibits). It was a promise they made to the public who was helping to fund the facility (we still do, to the tune of millions each year in an operation’s subsidy and maintenance – we own the building).

But this wasn’t just for the people who appreciated visual art, this was done to get people thru the door and exposing them to the arts who normally would not. Then they might stroll over to the Kirby Science Center or buy a ticket to a show or movie, or visit the gift shop.

Currently, the Pavilion holds very few FREE events. I think First Friday is the only time you can walk thru the VAC for free. Heck, it has been so long since I have been enticed to go there, I couldn’t tell you. I do know they have special deals for seniors and veterans to.

The Pavilion needs to reopen the VAC for free again, but I doubt they will, since they wouldn’t want to break with their tradition of only catering to a the ‘specials’ in town that can afford it, while the rest of us foot the bill and hope some crumbs fall to the floor for us once in awhile.

Open Bids save money

At Tuesday’s Sioux Falls City Council meeting, councilor Kiley argued that they shouldn’t put the IT expansion project out for bid because the delay would end up costing taxpayers more money. Pulling a crystal ball from his rear aside, that is not always the case.

Back in 2008, the city faced a similar dilemma, a bid was handed over to a contractor to replace the windows on the Pavilion, the problem was that when the Pavilion’s Operations Director turned the bid into the city, he realized later that he forgot to include labor and would have to resubmit the bid.

The controversy caused by this error got the attention of the media, so a lot more contractors bid on the project the second time around.

The city saved over $300K by resubmitting the project, in fact they had to amend the 2009 CIP budget to reflect the cost savings;

Improvements, by deleting $300,000 in year 2009 for windows (CIP p. 2-145).

We have NO IDEA if we are getting a ‘deal’ on the IT expansion because we never put it out for bid. And I can guarantee if it is put out for bid ‘after the fact’ there would be someone who would come in under $1.5 Million.

Open bids save tax dollars, and for councilor Kiley to say otherwise is just ludicrous and ignorant.

UPDATE: Naturalization Ceremony at Pavilion

I was pretty excited to hear there was so many new US citizens being sworn in this time around they had to have a bigger venue, so they chose the Great Hall at the Pavilion which is an excellent venue for it.

But I heard an interesting rumor, the Pavilion charged rent for the ceremony. I’m assuming if that is true, the Feds paid the tab. While I understand they have to have staff work these events, if they are during the day, isn’t the staff there already anyway?

What I also found interesting is that the Pavilion gets ‘some’ Federal money, so they turn around and charge rent?! The Pavilion is also subsidized by local taxpayers and is a city owned building that receives millions each year in operational and maintenance funds.

So if the rumor is true, my question is, is the Pavilion so hard up for money they have to charge for such an event? Oh that’s right, this is the same entity that also charges admission into the VAC, even though they could get sponsors to cover those expenses.

UPDATE: There were several volunteers working the event, but I still have not heard if the Feds had to rent the place. Since the Pavilion has taken over the Orpheum, the city has to pay rent if they want to use it.

Weekend Picts • June 1, 2019

Another shot of the Arc phase I being placed

Got to go into the Pavilion galleries for free on Saturday (the only time I go) the piece below was the best. The Pavilion also had a huge fail and instead of having their FREE concert outside on Main they moved it inside and hardly anyone attended. Apparently they wanted to celebrate 20 years but didn’t want any extra expense of having equipment outside. Lame.

There is a great view of the prison from the Levitt Stage. I wonder how many performers will ask about the castle on the hill?

The Pavilion celebrates 20 years

Not sure if many people knew this, but I was the lead usher of the Great Hall for the first 4 years the Pavilion was open. I still remember my interview in the Great Hall with then House Manager, Jeff Venekamp. It was exciting and over the years I have supported the place with my own brand of criticism. I met many amazing artists and performers, including George Carlin, Bill Cosby, Weird Al, and helped Carrot Top with some of his material. I even had drinks with Richard Weisman (epic art collector) at the Top Hat, oh, and the Violet Femmes. I even witnessed a famous jazz singer belt out a very large fart, in which she replied, “The pure mention of soda pop gets my gas gauge a goin”. I can’t even count the number of dancers I saw naked or near naked.

I also had my first solo art exhibit at the Pavilion and contributed to Arts Night where I won the people’s choice award one year. In recent years I met Rosanne Cash at a meet and greet.

I have always maintained that the city needs this place, but has always fell short on welcoming the whole community. In recent years charging to see local and regional art at the arts center was a huge mistake by the Pavilion and went against the promise of keeping the gallery free to the public.

While the Pavilion has brought in many great shows (My most memorable were Drums and Tuba, Wilco, Bulgaria, Late Night Cathecism, and the opera ‘Carmen’) it still has yet to embrace everyone. Oh, and the management and politics behind the place are atrocious which have tried to destroy many great peoples’ careers and lives and continues to this day.

After 20 years, I will confess we still need the Pavilion, but I think it is time we hit the reset button, it could be so much more if we would just allow it.