Monday, January 16, 2017

Armory Redux

KROC- AM News: So, the idea of the arts and cultural collaborative is not dead and buried?
Mayor Brede: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. 
                                                                               - interview, 9/15/16 

"Mayor Opposed to Selling Armory Building," interview KROC-AM News, 09/15/2016

Memo to Mayor and City Council from Steven Kvenvold, City Administrator regarding Armory Reuse Matters, 09/13/2016
The Armory building has served as a community resource for a number of decades and I would prefer that it continues to serve as a community resource for the future. A community is enhanced by a vibrant arts scene and an affordable gathering and work space is needed for individuals to explore and implement their artistic endeavors. In many cities, an artistic quarter often thrives in a low rent area of the city, frequently resulting in making such an area more attractive to investors, ultimately increasing rents which drives the artists out of the area. With a community owned facility, an "artistic quarter" could exist for many years without a loss of space due to the increasing costs of such a space. The proposal from the Arts and Cultural Initiative would also serve the needs of Rochester's diverse cultural groups by providing a space for the groups to meet and interact.

 "The Armory arts and culture re-use proposal: How much? Who agrees? Now what?," A Life and the Times, 09/05/2016

          Who agrees?
Over 100 organizations, groups, and individuals
The proposal submission includes commitments from 103 arts and cultural organizations, groups, and individuals to monthly rental of ACI Armory facilities; periodic use of the ACI Armory facilities; and, other support for the ACI Armory facilities project. The arts and culture organizations included among others: the Rochester Art Center, Rochester Symphony Orchestra and Chorale, Rochester Choral Arts Ensemble, Rochester Civic Music, Alliance of Chicanos, Hispanics and Latin Americans, and the Cambodian Association of Rochester Minnesota.  Dozens of letters of support were provided for review with the proposal submission.
Rochester Art Center 
In a letter included in the March 2016 ACI proposal submission, the Rochester Art Center (RAC) shared its own intentions to “guide and encourage thoughtful re-alignment between arts and cultural organizations in Rochester” and shared its believe that the ACI proposal was “a strong move to solidify an artists-led space.” RAC committed in its letter to provide “professional advice and support” to ACI as needed; rent space as for artists working with RAC; serve as “a foundational organization along with other arts organizations, museums and community groups“; and, provide “concrete professional art administrative support via governance, finance, grants, collaborative projects, etc…” 
Greater Rochester Arts and Cultural Trust
Subsequent to the ACI proposal submission, and based on an update it received regarding that proposal, the Board of the Greater Rochester Arts and Cultural Trust at its quarterly meeting in April 2016 passed a resolution on “The Re-use of the Rochester Armory Building”. Citing the “a longstanding desire within the arts and cultural community of a multi-use facility” and the benefits to the general public “from the potential for new educational, retail, and social artistic-related offerings,” the Trust recommended that the city of Rochester strongly consider “the arts, culture, and humanities re-use” of the Armory. 
Chateau Theatre Re-use Study 
Last month, August 2016, the Chateau Theatre Re-use Study commissioned from Webb Management Services, Inc by the Chateau Re-use Task Force included in its report references to the ACI Armory re-use proposal.  The study found “multiple arts groups, artists, and ethnic cultural communities, all struggling for funds and space (but mostly space).” The study noted that space was not only needed as places to “to work and produce,” but also “crucial” to receive grant dollars.
The study also observed the city has “a very large cultural community that has significant need for affordable gathering space.” For both groups the study noted that rising property values resulting from DMC have resulted in “rents that many can no longer afford.”  The study found “many art and cultural community representatives feel that, if the ACI’s proposal is unsuccessful, Rochester’s independent arts and culture community will be completely displaced”
Based on these and other findings, the study included this recommendation:
“In addition to making it the heart of the ‘Heart of the City’, make the Chateau the anchor facility of an arts and culture district or trail, one that includes the Armory as a home for Rochester’s small arts and cultural groups and independent artists. There is an acute need for small organization support in Rochester. The Chateau will be able to meet the needs of some of the community’s arts groups, but not all of them. We would recommend that the City give RACC’s Armory proposal significant thought, particularly within context of developing an arts and cultural district in downtown Rochester and the DMC.”

Observation 1:

Do not sell the Armory.

Observation 2:

Accept the Arts and Culture Initiative proposal for Re-use of the Armory with Addendum.

Observation 3:

Before 3:30pm this Wednesday (01/18/2017), let the people who will make this decision know that: (1) the Armory should not be sold; and, (2) the Arts and Culture Initiative proposal for Re-use of the Armory with Addendum should be accepted. Those people would be:

Randy Staver, City Council President Ed Hruska, City Council Member, 1st Ward Michael Wojcik, City Council Member, 2nd Ward Nick Campion, City Council Member, 3rd Ward Mark Bilderback, City Council Member, 4th Ward Mark Hickey, City Council Member, 5th Ward Annalissa Johnson, City Council Member, 6th Ward
Observation 4:

It's not complicated.

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