Madison’s City Council voted late Tuesday night to accept private ownership of the Overture Center for the Arts. The council voted 14-5 for a deal that will allow Overture and donors to erase a nearly $29 million bank debt that has threatened to close Overture.
Mayor Dave Cieslewicz is happy with the outcome, “It’s really a great day for the city…or a great evening for the city. The last vote the council will take in 2010 and it’s historic. It means that Overture will stay lit and get stronger. I think, if not guarantees the long term future of the Overture, it certainly gives it a much better fighting chance than before this vote. “One of the great things about this process was that everybody compromised. I had to compromise, alders on the left had to compromise, alders on the right had to compromise, the Overture group had to compromise and at the end of the day, all those compromises worked. And we came up with an agreement that I think is going to work.”
Under the agreement, the private, non-profit 201 State Foundation will own and run overture with the city contributing a $2 million annual subsidy adjusted for inflation. The foundation will assume control of Overture on January 1, 2012.
Meanwhile, while the deal is okay, former Mayor Paul Soglin thinks an important piece to the puzzle is missing, “That in the interim, we now do what should have been done 10 years ago, five years ago, two years ago, a year ago, a study…a really independent study, sponsored and authorized by the city.”
That said, Soglin says last night’s vote, was the right thing to do, since the city’s back was against the wall. But again, he stresses the importance of studying overtures future.