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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Common council members set goals, raise concerns over Overture Center

The Common Council held a special meeting Thursday to set goals and raise concerns with the Overture Center's ownership and operation model Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and other city staff set forth.

The 12-page Overture agreement released Thursday assumes the city would own the facility and 201 State Foundation would operate the facility. 201 State Foundation is the current non-profit arm of the Overture Center.

Cieslewicz said no matter what council members think of the Overture building itself, the building is a ""physical reality."" He said he wants the council members' support of the agreement.

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""It's an excellent deal for taxpayers and the long term future of this building,"" Cieslewicz said.

The relationship between the Overture and the city would resemble that of a landlord and tenant. 201 State Foundation would lease the building and operate it separate from the city, apart from the three city appointees that would sit on the 21-member board of directors overseeing the Overture's governance.

The city's annual contribution to the facility would stay at $1.41 million and 201 State Foundation would be responsible to report their financial activities to the city.

The staffing model of the agreement, a key point of contention among citizens and council members, will allow city employed Overture workers to keep their jobs through 201 State Foundation. This will include an 18-month transition period, and in July 2011, city employees are guaranteed a position of equal pay at 201 State Foundation.

Many council members said they were concerned with parts of the agreement. City Attorney Mike May said the terms of the agreement are not ""take it or leave it"" and could be adjusted before next Tuesday's Common Council meeting.

Each council member present discussed their general goals for the Overture's future and many of the goals overlapped. Mutually agreed upon goals include maintaining transparency and sustainability in the Overture—especially financially. Other goals were quality employee treatment and regional and local support for Overture as a whole.

""I don't see things up there that are diametrically opposed, frankly that gives me hope,"" Alder Satya Rhodes-Conway, District 12, said.

The agreement will be on the floor for discussion at Tuesday's Common Council meeting.

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