I'm skipping over the pissing match part of this topic, but I have a money question.
First, add up all the dollars spent in this town on entertainment that could happen in the Overture center (theater, music that does not happen in a bar, whatever else).
Now, take out the ticket dollars spent at the Kohl Center and the Coliseum. Those places aren't going away. You might take out the Bartell ticket dollars too, since it's got a place of its own and hopefully isn't going away either. Maybe do the same for Broom Street.
Let's call the remainder "overall ticket total" for purposes of this discussion. I'm leaving out "music that happens in a bar" because when people go out to hear a band, maybe dance, and drink, they are looking for something totally unrelated to the Overture experience.
Now add up the Overture overhead. That number has to be available someplace, or the City Council's got nothing to go on when they discuss what to do next. Include debt service, maintenance, employees (at current rate of pay), and everything else.
Is "overall ticket total" larger than or smaller than Overture's overhead?
If it's larger, theoretically Overture can pay its own way.
If it's smaller, it can't.
You can mess around with the numbers at this point -- take out Overture's debt service and hope the debt magically vanishes, or let the city provide such-and-such a subsidy. See how things come out under various scenarios.
I haven't seen it, but somebody should be doing these calculations before the city council decides anything. With little to go on but instinct here, I think the results of this scratch-paper exercise would be discouraging.
Linda Baldwin apparently thinks there is elasticity in Madison's overall ticket total. Trying to be fair, I think that's the point of her article: people ought to spend more on entertainment at Overture. Such elasticity has yet to be demonstrated. With our economic downturn, there's little new income available to individuals and families to be allocated to entertainment. Without new income, an expanded entertainment expenditure has to come from some other part of the person's budget. The greatest list of shows in the world, and the greatest promotion can't make people squeeze more ticket money out of their budgets if they don't have it to begin with.
I don't see more ticket money appearing, not anytime soon. If we can't face up to that fact, we aren't going to "solve" anything.
This is the trouble with having wealthy people managing Overture in a top-down manner. They can't grasp the forces affecting the budget decisions of people in other financial circumstances. (Overture, obviously, isn't the only place we see this happening.)
No clever rearrangement of Overture's management system even begins to address this fundamental condition. It's a deck-chair-rearrangement on your typical Titanic, and we'll have to re-do the whole thing in two to five years.
An aside: Cutting Overture up means doing what's already been done with the Madison art center. It's a separate entity housed in the Overture building and, as far as I know, it's been separate from the start. People advocating cutting Overture up mean making it into several other separate (more manageable?) entities like the art center. I don't know if it would help or not. I still think finding another use for part of the building needs to be considered, though the "not until I'm out of office" thing is totally understandable.