It appears that Mayor Paul Soglin has been vaccinated with a turntable needle. He's dedicated approximately $100,000 to music development in his proposed city budget for 2013. He's also cut $1 million of Overture Center's city funding, leaving the performing-arts organization with $850,000 for the upcoming year unless the Common Council restores funds.
Under the new budget, increased hotel-room tax revenue would help pay for, among other things, a $50,000 video to promote Madison as a destination for music lovers. Another $25,000 would go toward Make Music Madison, a citywide festival slated for June 21, the first day of summer. Still in development, it's modeled after La Fête de la Musique in Paris. An additional $20,000 would fund a study to see if Madison could handle a South by Southwest-style music fest. The remaining $5,000 would boost Dane Dances, Monona Terrace's popular rooftop concert series.
Soglin has long valued the link between culture and economic growth, but he's gotten serious about it in the last year. Some of his thinking solidified in, of all places, the Cleveland airport.
"Out of nowhere came a four-man band playing ragtime," he says. "It was just so much fun to enjoy and watch the people's faces light up."
Soglin says the June 21 event would be "totally different" from the city's many other music festivals.
"The idea is to provide the opportunity for musicians to perform especially to audiences that might not get the opportunity to appreciate their work," he says. "We might have a swing band at Meadowood Community Gardens, an accordion player at a bus stop...a string quartet at Brentwood."
The mayor will discuss his music proposals and other related items at an Oct. 13 Neighborhood Conference (Monona Terrace, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.).