Good news for Madison Tuesday. The city was on the hook for $28 million, after a trust fund established to cover longterm capital needs and operating costs at the Overture Center For The Arts was liquidated. That debt has now been erased. “Representatives of Overture Development Corporation, the Madison Cultural Arts District, the 201 State Foundation and the three lending banks (U.S. Bank, M&I Bank and JP Morgan Chase) executed an agreement that will settle Overture’s debt,” said Tom Carto, Overture’s President and CEO.
That settlement involves some $15 million ponied up by wealthy contributors including W. Jerome Frautschi, whose original $205 million gift got the center built. “Without this agreement, Madison taxpayers could’ve been on the hook for as much as $5.8 million, said Mayor Dave Cieslewicz. “But now, thanks again to generous donors led by Jerry Frautschi, the slate has been wiped clean.” In addition to Frautschi, donors included Joe and Mary Ellen Sensenbrenner, 201 State Foundation chair , The Terry Family Foundation, The Cummings Christiansen Foundation, The DeAtley Foundation and Jim and Cathy Burgess. A specific breakdown on each contribution was not provided, at the request of the donors.
Madison taxpayers will, however, be on the hook for capital and operating costs: the deal is contingent upon the city taking ownership of the building. Cieslewicz said the current operating subsidy is about $1.3 million, and capital costs may be about $800,000 in another four years. He said the city will make an effort not exceed that current level of subsidy, and said taxpayers should look at the settlement as an asset to the city, rather than a liability. “Overture’s an asset for the entire community, as a matter of fact, it’s an asset for the entire region,” said Cieslewcicz. “We’re getting it essentially for free, and what we’re committing to is taking care of it for the long run.” A non-government, nonprofit organization will be established to operate Overture. “Overture needs to sustain itself, through its own operations, and this is the path to do that,” said Carto.