Well, it looks like the Mayor finally realized that it was high time that the City of Richmond brought the grownups in.
Wilder appoints consultant to performing arts committee
Monday, September 11, 2006
Mayor L. Douglas Wilder today announced the appointment of John Gerner, a longtime consultant of leisure and cultural developments across the United States, as the city administration’s liaison consultant for the Performing Arts Committee and the ongoing efforts to renovate the Carpenter Center.
“I am pleased to appoint Mr. Gerner because of his experience and expertise which will be very helpful as we move forward,” said the mayor. “Mr. Gerner is highly respected in his field and we very much appreciate his taking on this responsibility as a community volunteer.”
Gerner, who lives in Richmond, is managing director of Leisure Business Advisors LLC which conducts feasibility studies, development planning, and business plans for companies, municipalities and other clients. His past clients include the City of Concord, N.C., the Arkansas Arts Center, Canadian Geographic, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Celebrating Patsy Cline, Inc. For more information, visit www.leisure-business.com.
“I am pleased the mayor has asked me to help in bringing the city’s expectations to the committee’s attention and working to advance the ‘City of the Future’ program as announced by the mayor in January,” Gerner said. “I am hopeful that the reopening of the Carpenter Center can take place as quickly as possible, as well as the resolving of other issues.”
OK, one grownup — but it’s a start.
Gerner is an experienced arts professional and local resident— one not wedded to any of the Virginia Performing Arts Foundation’s sacred cows, thank goodness — and we applaud the mayor for finally recognizing that it is important to involve experienced arts and entertainment professionals from the community after three years of that kind of local input being denigrated, ignored, stifled and blackballed by the Foundation.
[While we are on the subject, those of us at Save Richmond continue to wonder why the man who successfully ran the Carpenter Center for more than a decade has not been officially brought back in to help on the CC renovation. Just think of the positive signals that move would send out to prospective donors.]
All that aside, this late-breaking appointment is a good sign that city hall is beginning to understand the real problems here.
Gerner seems to understand too. He has written:
No private group should have the final say concerning what our community does with a part of itself, regardless of the stature of the individuals involved. As individuals, we all have to leave someday. Only the community survives. As our personal legacy, let’s continue to work together to make Richmond the best it can be. I hope this is one assumption we can still make.
Still, with four months to go before the performing arts committee is slated to release its final report, realistic questions have to be asked:
- How much influence will this one experienced, independent professional be allowed to exert on the overall plan?
- How will this appointment affect the long-forgotten promise that the public would be allowed input into this project — and the idea that a truly independent entity manned by knowledgable people (not just Foundation members and political friends) needs to oversee both the renovation, and the daily operation, of the Carpenter Center?
- And is Mr. Gerner’s appointment coming too late in the process to stop another VAPAF trainwreck?
As we’ve said before, stay tuned…