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Tuesday, March 21, 2023
Council grants funds to review Overature Center

Common Council: Ald. Lauren Cnare, District 3, tells council members about the reviewer who will investigate the proposed Overture Center model.

Council grants funds to review Overature Center

The Madison Common Council passed an amendment that will grant an independent consultant funds to review the proposed Focused Model for the Overture Center.

Ald. Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, District 5, requested that the issue be reconsidered after the motion failed to pass at a council meeting she was unable to attend in October.

The Council further amended the motion to require the consultant to visit Madison prior to his presentation of recommendations for the Overture Center.

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The consultant, James Undercofler, is a professor of performing arts at Drexel University in Philidelphia and has experience with performing arts centers, according to Ald. Lauren Cnare, District 3.

Ald. Tim Bruer, District 14, said he is concerned with how the Overture Center proceedings have progressed. Negotiations with the city and the Overture Center about ownership models and legal details have been a ""take-us-or-nothing mentality,"" Bruer said.

Bruer changed his vote from October and voted in support of the motion.

""[The city] slowed down the train—that was my goal,"" Bruer said. ""I didn't want to blow up the train.""

Many alders consider a third-party review essential.

""You wouldn't buy a house based on the seller who says, ‘It's in great shape,'"" Ald. Marsha Rummel, District 6, said. ""You'd get an independent assessment.""

Ald. Judy Compton, District 16, voted against the motion and called it a ""foolish expenditure.""

Overture Center CEO Tom Carto said he welcomes the independent review. He said the Focused Model is sound and understands the council is ""looking for a second look to give it some sort of viability.""

Undercofler began preliminary research prior to the council's vote. He pulled records from the Overture Center and is ""anxious to get to work,"" Cnare said.

Many Madison residents spoke in support of the Overture Center and its role in the community.

""We all love Overture,"" Overture Center Account Clerk Jay Young said. ""Nobody wants to see it close.""

All other considerations regarding the Overture Center have been referred to the Nov. 30 Common Council meeting. Undercofler will present his recommendations during this meeting.

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