GRSF planning money


(1/2/2008)

From: David Bratt

City officials announce they intend to divert arts facility planning money to other purposes. Arts-types protest. City Manager Eric Sorensen defends the hijacking, claiming he can "see only community members interested in the arts--a mayor and a group of businessmen who want to better the Winona community."

(Insert optical illusion joke here.)

Sorensen says, "The planning money will help us get needed answers to size, location, acoustics, etc." for "a multi-purpose facility" that would serve the needs of GRSF and the Beethoven Festival and would also "provide competitive facilities for sporting activities." This, he says, is "a rational approach."

So what could possibly be wrong with it? Two things.

First, the fact that the plan was hatched in secrecy as long as six months ago casts doubt on Sorensen's claim that the plotters have the best interests of the arts in mind. Instead, Jim Galewski got it right: "The city is salivating over the funds, but has almost no interest in using it on the Shakespeare event."

Second, and more importantly: Sorensen knows that, to obtain the kind of answer you want, it sure helps to be the one who gets to word the question. Ask "What sort of facility will serve GRSF?" and you will get a different answer than you will if you add "and Beethoven, too." And if we let Our Leaders add "and basketball, too," the shape of the answer has pretty much been determined: it'll be an arena.

Wording the question in a way that leads you to a particular kind of answer is not "a rational approach."

However, as evidence that this approach will work, city staff (anonymously) "pointed to a facility at Northern Illinois University which serves as a sports arena and convocation center, housing musical and theatrical events." Here's that building's calendar of events (http://www.convocenter.niu.edu) for the eleven weeks beginning December 1:

ten basketball games

four rock concerts

two comics

the Lipizzaner Stallions

Gee, no Beethoven; no Shakespeare--but, hold on, we do have the NIU marching band, Sesame Street Live (heavily miked), and Blue Man Group (mute).

(Question: except for the marching band, why don't NIU's Music or Theatre Departments use the facility? Answer: they're rational people: they know a barn when they see one.)

Finally, a challenge to those who claim to be rational arts lovers while plotting to glom onto the planning money: http://www.shakespearefestival.com/ lists 75 Shakespeare festivals. How many of them perform in a multi-purpose basketball arena? If there are any, do they believe the facility helps them be more successful? If not, what rational reason is there for believing Winona's GRSF might be different?

 

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