Entries Tagged 'Washington Pavilion' ↓

When is the Washington Pavilion going to present the 2019 & 2020 Annual Report to the Sioux Falls City Council?

The last report to show up on the Pavilion’s site is 2018. If you do a search of city council informational meetings you are unable to find the last time the Pavilion has presented an annual report to the City Council. I guess I’m curious why the 2019 and 2020 annual reports are missing? The Great Plains Zoo will be presenting their annual report to the Parks Board on Wednesday (no supporting docs).

I would also like to see what the financials are for the Levitt from this past season (we may not see those until next spring).

I am often curious how organizations that receive millions in tax dollars to subsidize and provide maintenance to their facilities can just skirt providing financial reports to the citizens or don’t even post them online to at least view. This is what happens when you have a city ran by a cruise control mayor who hates open and transparent government, or maybe he just doesn’t understand it?


In more cruise control government ineptness, the rumor is that the Chief Cultural Officer that the Mayor so desperately needed has resigned and leaving the city this week. If true, I find the timing ironic considering several councilors have asked publicly at meetings when they will get a review about what she has contributed to the city since her position was created. I guess the best way to get out of giving a report is to quit. LOL.

Will the Washington Pavilion’s Board of Directors consider cutting the Director’s pay during the Pandemic?

I’m not sure what Darrin Smith’s salary is as the Director/President of the Pavilion, in fact the public hasn’t heard in years what that pay level is since they moved the annual meeting until sometime in July(?). Moles have told me it is well over of $170K. Now, don’t me wrong, if Covid didn’t exist and the Pavilion was having sold out shows throughout the winter and the endowment was overflowing, it may be justified, but when you are cutting staff like mad and you literally have NO SHOWS going on (the Pavilion’s bread and butter) wouldn’t you consider cutting executive pay at least until they can start booking shows again? For all management?

Money wise, the Pavilion has turned a corner starting with the past presidents and continuing with Smith, but mostly because Smith has gotten out the axe well before the pandemic. Isn’t it ironic when a crisis occurs (even at a non-profit) the first to be thrown to the curb or receive pay cuts are the minions while the execs still roll in the dough. It’s pretty pathetic, but a continuing tradition of the Pavilion that has only been a drain on taxpayer’s entertainment tax fund.

Besides the Events Center (losing close to $3 million now) the Pavilion may be next in line for a bailout, we wouldn’t want Director Smith’s lifestyle interrupted, would we?

It looks as though the cartoonist who ran the VAC (he lasted longer than I thought he would) and the HR director are on the outs, probably not in too big of a hurry to rehire;

The Director of Museums is an amazing position responsible for the Vision and Mission of the Washington Pavilion Management, Inc. Museum filled with visual arts! This role reports directly to our Chief Operations Officer. FT, exempt-level (salary) position; Monday-Friday, Day shifts (flexible on creating a schedule)with some weekends and evenings for occasional & special events. Plus Director on Duty rotation every 6-8 weeks to be the on-call DOD for the Washington Pavilion. Excellent compensation based on education experience & leadership skills plus an excellent full benefits package!

The Human Resources Manager is an engaging position at the Washington Pavilion responsible for the overall administration, management and evaluation of Washington Pavilion Management, Inc (WPMI) human resource related functions, including recruiting and selection; on-boarding and employee development; performance management; compensation and benefits; policies and procedures; employee well-being & safety; and compliance with state and federal employment laws and regulations. The HR Manager will also have responsibility for submission and/or tracking of worker’s compensation information, OSHA logs, and FMLA records. This role will report to the CEO/President and work closely with the Accounting department to support Administration & the Executive team.

Washington Square Developer whines about the easement process

(FF 41:00)

Yes, folks, only in good old Sioux Falls would a developer complain about how he had to front a little money in legal fees and surveying (City Council Meeting, Items 16-17) after receiving some easements.

First the obvious, and replying to one of his main complaints, that while taxpayers are essentially giving him FREE land, that this gifting party should somehow also pay these fees?!

This same developer also received millions in a TIF (massive tax rebate) before the project was built. While I do complain sometimes when the council doesn’t discuss an item or answer constituent questions, I did chuckle a bit last night after this developer stood at the microphone and cried about how he had to spend a couple of grand (to receive FREE property). Their non-response to this unwarranted fit was completely appropriate. Not a single councilor, the mayor, the city attorney or any of the planning/environmental staff responded to his rant.

It reminds me of when I used to wait tables and people would want a free meal if I forgot to give them complimentary free bread. This developer has received free property and millions in tax breaks and has the nerve to complain about it?!

UPDATE: City of Sioux Falls spends over $200K of your taxdollars to promote covid tourism and super spreader events

After watching this press conference, I just shook my head, just like I do every time I see the POTUS at a press conference.

UPDATE: You will notice in the video, Teri Schmidt, who runs the CVB mentions that ClickRain is the company who has the contract with the CVB. This of course is Mayor TenHaken’s former company. The city council just approved over $200K to go towards this promotion, which will essentially be handed over to ClickRain. Can anyone say ‘conflict of interest’?

It was also pointed out to me after the meeting, that Paul stated to someone he is very nervous about how this is all going to work with our recent spike. As it has been said, Paul, now is the time to lead.

Why on earth would we be promoting tourism in the middle of a pandemic (and soon influenza season) while our numbers are spiking out of control?

A new program championed by the city of Sioux Falls called Sioux Falls Alive aims to give people safe programs and events during the fall and winter months.

“We have to figure out how we co-exist with COVID-19 over the winter,” Mayor Paul TenHaken said.

“We have to continue to look at ways to give our community, give our families, give people in Sioux Falls ways to stay engaged in the community, ways to stay involved in activities to do but doing so in a very safe and socially distant fashion … believe it or not those things can co-exist.”

Sioux Falls is “going to demonstrate how that can be done,” he added.

We have hardly figured out how to keep our workplaces and nursing homes safe, how on earth can you have beer gardens and masquerade parties? At least people will be wearing masks at one of the events.

While I often have said Mayor Stoneless really does have stones (mostly between his ears) I wonder who is really pushing this hair brain idea of ignoring the covid, let’s party?!

He is right about one thing, the hospitality industry will be devastated over the winter in Sioux Falls. With our numbers spiking, especially in Minnehaha and Lincoln county, our bars and restaurants this winter will be practically empty. They struggle anyway when it gets cold out, put Covid on top of that, not a good situation.

While I commend our city leaders for trying to keep the hospitality industry going in SF during a pandemic, this is a poor plan.

There should be more exploration of how to make takeout and food delivery more convenient and affordable AND profitable for these businesses instead of worrying about our public entertainment facilities (the Romans called it Bread and Circus for a reason). One of my friends suggested easing the laws so bars/restaurants can deliver pre-made cocktails to your home with food, or to avoid the alcohol laws, deliver setups with recipe instructions on what alcohol to add.

There are many great ideas out there to keep businesses open, but promoting a Covid holiday and super spreader events in our city, while using my tax money, is about as Covid stupid as I have seen.

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.