Fans of the Overture Center hoped its financial struggles were finally over when the city agreed late last year to have a nonprofit entity own and manage the facility, with the promise of a $2 million annual city subsidy.
The deal settled the center's $28.6 million debt. But it turns out that the $2 million annual gift is no sure thing. In fact, Mayor Paul Soglin doesn't think the city will pony up that amount next year.
"It'll be very difficult to justify a $2 million commitment to Overture when you look at the significant cuts that will be made to city agencies and city services," Soglin says.
But the arts center won't go away empty-handed. Soglin wants to find $1.35 million or more. "I'm hoping that's the floor."
Ald. Mike Verveer says it would be "really unfortunate and bordering on potentially devastating if the city does not keep its financial commitment."
The amount of the city's subsidy won't be known for a few months. The mayor's budget proposal is due in October, and the Common Council will likely make changes before approving it in November.
Verveer remains optimistic. "The mayor has proposed a budget process that encourages community input between now and the fall," he says. "It'll be interesting to see how Overture comes out in the mix among community priorities."