An Uphill Battle In Kansas City

An article in the 12/05/04 edition of the Kansas City Star by Paul Horsley reports that the city manager wants to move a proposed parking garage to location which would force patrons to traverse up a steep hill to get from the garage to the planned performing arts center (something elderly or disabled patrons would not be able to accomplish without assistance).

The city manager states the move would save $10 million in building costs but critics of moving the garage state that any savings would be canceled by the cost to build escalators and walkways.  The critics claim the proposed move has much more to do with putting the parking garage closer to sporting events and city arenas, something the city manager denies.

Aren’t we all tired of sporting facilities always getting the best deals in out cities?  Here in Baltimore, the owners of the local baseball and football teams convinced the city and state to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to build two state of the art ball parks right next to each other.

During the recent contract talks negotiated by Philadelphia mayor John Street, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the mayor

” pointed out that public funding locally of arts groups generally is paltry or nonexistent. He says he will work toward finding a dedicated funding source for all arts groups regionally.”

The article goes on to report that Mayor Street said,

“We didn’t think anything about spending $600 or $700 million on stadiums. And I’m not saying that was a bad thing. People feel good about it, property values are up. But this is a region that doesn’t do very well by its bread-and-butter arts and culture organizations.”

And Mayor Street is absolutely correct.  The city government in Kansas City would be well advised to take Street’s words to heart and stop plugging to move the parking garage.  The owners of sports stadiums make more than enough money to build their own parking facilities, let them worry about building a garage on their own and stop using public officials to push their agendas.

Allow the garage to go up where the PAC planners think it will best serve their needs and make attending events at the PAC as convenient as possible for future patrons.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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