Tom Golisano’s gift of $25 million to a theater presents a great opportunity. But what is that opportunity?

Lovely Warren came into office pledging to secure a performing arts center in downtown Rochester. Three years later, basic questions about the concept are unanswered. Is Parcel 5 the best site? How much will the theater cost to build? What are the sources of capital funds? Has there been an independent analysis of operating costs? What will happen to the Auditorium and surrounding businesses in Neighborhood of the Arts?

Most importantly, the public has been left out of decision-making. The Request for Proposals process was conducted behind closed doors. The theater project was chosen at the last minute, without basic financial and other feasibility information.

“I’m supportive of RBTL’s goals, but what’s been presented isn’t a real project. We need a mayor who can bring all stakeholders to the table, including citizens and arts groups, to come up with a viable plan,” Barnhart said.

Because of the uncertainty, Parcel 5 needs to be converted into a temporary park. Perhaps there can be space for vendors and pop-up businesses. Let’s make Parcel 5 public space until we figure out its future – a future that should belong to everyone.

Barnhart’s Proposed Reforms:

End pay to play

Barnhart has refused to accept campaign contributions from anyone with business before the city, including developers. She also won’t accept donations from city employees.

No More Secret RFPs for Public Land

Submissions will be public. Citizens will be able to provide input.

City Arts Fund

The city will create an arts fund to support nonprofit institutions large and small. Unrestricted grants will be awarded to ensure the viability of our vibrant arts culture. The fund could be a combination of public and private dollars. The city could team up with the county, which already awards arts funding.

Comprehensive Facilities Plan

We must come up with an improvement plan for the convention center, arena and soccer stadium. The needs and costs must be identified. A funding plan must be developed. A theater could be added, if deemed feasible.

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