Madison’s Overture Center vs. Mayor Paul Soglin


I have never had one friend come to Madison, and after looking at the Overture Center, not exclaim how fortunate this city is to have such an amazing performing arts complex.

Earlier this year on a Farmers’ Market Saturday some friends joined James and myself for a free sing-a-long with the Madison Symphony Orchestra Overture Concert Organ.  The voices lifted in the hall while Samuel Hutchison not only played with precision, but also regaled the crowd with interesting commentary.

I mention this as my starting point to this post as there seems to be a continuing refrain that the Overture Center is only for the rich and well-to-do.  That is just not the case.

James and I are of moderate means, and still partake in the MSO a couple of times  a year, a play here, and a show there.   I can assure my readers that the Overture is not just for the well-heeled.

But if that is to remain the same without cutbacks of one type or another there needs to be a concerted undertaking by the Madison City Council to inject more money into the city’s subsidy for the center.

Last year Madison provided $1.85 million for Overture, but this year Mayor Soglin has proposed slashing funds to $850,000.  That must not stand.

Fortunately, on this issue, downtown Alderperson Mike Verveer is working over-time to galvanize support on the council to up the funding level that the city provides.  That effort deserves the support of the city, and concerned patrons of the arts.

There is no way to look at the offerings the Overture provides and not grasp the significance that is provided to the people who call Madison home.  Why Soglin has continuing disdain for Overture, and seems at some level seeking to make his “crash and burn” statement come true remains perhaps the largest question I have about his stewardship of this city.

When working for a non-profit many years ago I was made aware of how our clients were benefitting from having access to free tickets for a wide range of shows at Overture.  When I walk by the center on State Street and see kids inside having a grand time I am heartened that the arts are made alive and interesting for the young.  When I see elderly folks walk slowly ahead of James and myself as we exit a show I am reminded that a lifetime of music might be the best way to make it through life.

There are countless reasons the Overture Center should be funded in the manner that is consistent with the promises made for this amazing part of our city.

There are countless reasons to contact Mayor Soglin and remind him of that fact.

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