The majority of Madison’s City Council hopes to allocate more funds toward the Overture Center in the 2013 operating budget after the proposed budget cut its funding by $1 million.
The 2012 operating budget allocated $1.85 million to the Overture Center, and Mayor Paul Soglin proposed to decrease its funding to $850,000 in 2013.
Soglin’s spokesperson Katie Crawley has said Soglin focused his proposed budget on services including increased allocations to the Madison Police Department to address and maintain a safety focus on certain neighborhoods and areas like the downtown area.
Verveer said the majority of City Council members opposes the decision to significantly cut funding to the institution, as it may affect the downtown community. He said 14 of the 20 City Council members have committed to supporting the Overture Amendment, which proposes to dedicate $1.75 million to it in the budget.
“For me this is personal, and [I'm] very familiar with what an asset [the Overture Center] is to the downtown [area],” Verveer said.
Verveer said ideally, he would like to give the Overture Center $2 million in the 2013 operating budget, which is as much as it received in 2010. He said even though it is unlikely because the budget is tight, he is still optimistic in proposing $1.75 million.
He said he believes Mayor Paul Soglin’s proposed budget puts the Overture Center’s programming and employees at risk. He added he does not yet know what programs would be eliminated, but it has the potential to affect the University of Wisconsin student events, children’s shows and many free and low-cost tickets the center provides.
Rob Chappell, spokesperson for Overture , said most of its community and educational programming would be cut if Soglin’s $1 million budget cut is approved. He added that would negatively impact the community.
“[There will be] fewer people coming downtown, fewer events, [fewer] people eating at restaurants and shopping on State Street,” Chappell said.
Chappell said if City Council passes the Overture Amendment, he does not anticipate the center cutting any programs. He said the center may face some internal cuts, but nothing that would outwardly affect the community.
City Council President Ald. Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, District 5, said the Overture Center’s partnership with community schools, which is a popular destination for field trips, is at risk of being cut.
Bidar-Sielaff said City Council originally had an agreement to provide annual funds of $2 million to the Overture Center after it was switched from being city-owned to a privately owned non-profit. She said the city’s annual funds have decreased since then and have only been able to provide $1.85 million for the past couple years.
Because Overture is a non-profit private facility, it has been working to become less dependent on the city government, Verveer said. He said last year, the center raised $2.4 million in private fundraising.
The first vote to approve the Overture Amendment will be held Oct. 22 by the Board of Estimates, Verveer said.
Chappell said the 2013 operating budget will be passed at a meeting on either Nov. 14 or Nov. 15. He said it will be decided then whether the Soglin’s proposal or the City Council’s amendment will be approved.