Choosing Between Arts Center and Poor People

Madison- At the public hearing on Tuesday, Oct. 30, Overture's supporters asked the city council to restore the funding for the arts center. Since Mayor Paul Soglin proposed to cut $ 850,000 from the city budget for 2013, Soglin argued better to invest that amount of money to develop more neighborhood centers for poor people, while the supporters insisted that the arts center itself has already held numbers of social activities to support the city.

According to Soglin, cutting back on neighborhood funding in favor of Overture Center could one day leave the city with a healthy fine arts center surrounded by unhealthy neighborhood. In fact, poverty and dysfunctional neighborhoods causes many crimes and violence across Downtown.

Kathie Nichols, a business administrator of First United Methodist Church, confronted this belief when she gave her statement during the public hearing, “My concern are the disturbing messages that I heard which seems pitch overture center against things like social services program and neighborhood centers.” 

Nichols explained how the Overture Center worked together with the church to provide chances for poor people to develop their art talents, “You may know that First United Methodist Church has a large food pantry, we provide shower for homeless individuals and we have shelters for winter month. But you may not know that we also provide free rehearsal space musical and arts groups. Many of them performed in overture center.”

Nichols added, “Not only providing free opportunities, Overture Center also generating jobs and income to the city. You should consider us as the significant partner for the city.“ 

“Money to help poor people is all well and good, but government has a responsibility to all residents, even the ones who like opera and ballet," Chris Rickert, a metro columnist from Wisconsin State Journal, described the dilemma. "Shorting Overture could actually hurt the poor because the center will offer only less free programs,” he added.

(Reported by : Sylvia Lim)


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