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What I Did For Love ... And Money

What a surprise, now that I’ve started this blog, people are
actually looking for it.

For that, thanks a lot!

Seriously.

I’ve been torn this week trying to think of a way to
approach the City-COC Arts Debacle (or the CCOCAD, since everyone seems to be
into acronyms). My conundrums: Should the City get more for its $2 million,
should the nonprofit arts groups get anything for trying to do nothing more
than provide cultural stimulation to our blasé citizens and isn’t COC a
community college?

Emphasis on “community,” i.e., dedicated to the greater
good. At least I thought.

But the proposal (formerly known as the “slam dunk”) to
sever the ties between City and COC’s PAC seemed a little premature to little
ol’ taxpayer, me. I thought for the $2 mil dowry (which was supported by a
parade of people who testified before the Council when they were considering
cutting the check) should get us more than a five-year twirl around the floor.

That’s a pretty expensive dance.

Call me delusional, but I thought the city’s partnership
(and financial contribution) at least put them in the parental role when the
performing community got less than satisfactory cooperation from the college.
There was a safety, an entity that nonprofit arts groups could go to with a
grievance or a problem.

Now COC wants them to go away.

I can understand the city bean counters seeing an immediate
economic stimulus in saving the additional $20,000 that the city’s been putting
toward PAC expenses. No fault there.

But in the short, less-than-sweet honeymoon phase of having
a performing arts center here in town, I’ve seen just a few groups use the
facility – and those who stayed away claimed the costs were just prohibitive.

That’s where the community comes in. Shouldn’t the college
that never fails to have a hand out at fundraisers, which runs an
income-producing farmers market and auto swap meet weekly and gets so much of
our tax money in so many differently-wrapped gift boxes look after its quirky
performers?

Community.

It’s taking care of each other, something that isn’t
happening unless artists enroll in COC’s programs and pay tuition and book
fees. That gives their troupe a leg up in choosing performance dates.

Nonprofits on the outside have to wait until everybody else
comes to the trough, then select from the leftovers.

It’s almost worse than what our high schools have to do
while waiting for available performance space. Our oldest high school has a
theater and another school built 30 years later has one. We have six high
schools. Needless to say, they never know when Hart or Valencia
will let them schedule their “spring” musicals.

But I digress. Besides, that a whole ‘nother blog.

So the bigwigs at the city and COC thought dissolving this
Memorandum of Understanding that offered groups a chance at 40 percent of the
dates would be a good idea.

Thank goodness one of the college trustees stood up and
spoke her mind. Whether she spoke for the whole board or not doesn’t matter –
what does matter is that the issue was never brought up for discussion by the
board itself – a board that was intimately involved in every move prior to the
theater’s opening in 2004.

Shhh. Don’t bring it up to the people who are ELECTED by
these performers, you fool! They might figure out what’s going on!

We’re supposed to be happy with the college’s assurance that
whatever decision is made will not affect the 2009-2010 season.

That “assurance” is simply absurd.

In 18 months, no nonprofit will be able to plan, holding
their breath on the whim of the college. Rights have to be secured to put on a
show, to perform musical or dance numbers, to organize and fundraise, audition,
rehearse and plan a performance. With an uncertain future, what’s the use?

And if the feeling is that the only quality performers are
those in college classes, let me reassure you that’s nowhere near the case.
There hasn’t been a production on that stage where the performers groomed at
nonprofit arts groups haven’t stood out because of their professionalism and focused
talent.

I understand there are hard times and entertainment is taking
a hit. Budgets of both schools and cities are being watched closely and cuts
are being made wherever they can.

But I remember, back in the days of “should we support a
performing arts center?” there was a young man who addressed the Council.

His simple point “Not every kid does sports” gave the
Council pause.

But what are we cutting out of sports programs? We’re
spending more and more for an expanded Central Park, a
larger skate park, a grander Sports Complex and Activities
Center
. No cutbacks there.

But performing arts? They’ll take care of themselves.

Won’t they?

 



RockBottom is a blog written by KHTS News Director Carol Rock and represents her opinion and not that of the radio station. She welcomes your feedback via e-mail at rock@hometownstation.com