Well, Matt at Thoughts From The Oasis (see link at right) weighed in on the Press Citizen editorial from last Saturday. At the risk of being me-tooistic (one of the worst traits of the blogging community, if you ask me), this paragraph that Matt points out isn’t getting enough attention.
That Wednesday's gala cost $60 for the performance and $100 for the performance and reception signals to many in the community that the Englert is now for the city's wealthy.
Now, I’ve got nothing against the wealthy. But anyone who was involved in this project in the early stages can confirm what I’m about to say. The city’s wealthy are not the reason why this project got to where it is today.
Not for a lack of trying on our part. We reached out to the city’s wealthy. We made efforts towards them to get them to donate money or time. We knew getting large donations from a few people would make our fundraising job so much easier. And some of the city’s wealthy did donate money and time. Not a whole lot, but some did. But this project was successful because of the many, many, many people who gave a little. People stretching their budgets to give $500 for a seat. Kids collecting cans to turn into change to donate. Elderly making $100 pledges over five years because $20 a year was really all they could afford. Those are the people who made this project a success. By and large (again, with a few notable exceptions), the city’s wealthy didn’t come on board until it looked like the project was going to be a success.
All in all, it’s a pretty good editorial. It could hit harder – it pulls it’s punches at times – but it’s a start. Nonetheless, there are some aggravating things.
Without question, the Englert Theatre refurbishment looks splendid, and its performances enhance downtown. The Englert, for many years to come, will stand as an icon of what can happen when a community comes together to save a be-loved building.
This would have been a perfect spot to hit the point that the community came together for a specific reason – the establishment of a community performance space.
But running through an overwhelming number of visions was a general sense it would be a community venue for community-based performers that would be accessible to by all community members. Right or wrong, some donors are unhappy that hasn't come to be, and this must be of concern to the wider community.
Right or wrong? RIGHT OR WRONG? You mean there is a possibility that it’s wrong to be unhappy that the thing you were promised when you donated your money and time isn’t what you’re getting in return?
To the theater's credit, there have been some local performances, especially during the holiday season.
Yep. Two events that were official Englert fundraising events had local performers.
You know, if the Englert hierarchy had come out and said “In the first year or so we are open, we will need to rely more heavily on touring performers and higher ticket prices to ensure that we survive, but after we get our feet firmly planted we will start to open up the schedule to more local performers and open up the prices to more reasonably meet expectations” none of us would be questioning what is happening. None of us. But they haven’t come out and said that, and it’s telling that they haven’t come out and said that.
But hey, the issue made the editorial page, and not as a letter to the editor. It’s a start, and we need to keep the pressure up.