Friday 400: June 16, 2007

It is not every Summer Solstice Celebration here in Wausau that really feels like summer, but we had that last night. Near 90 degree temps during the day provided the atmosphere and Wausau Area Events provided the party. Johnny Wad, a great cover band from Green Bay provided the musical accompaniment and about 2000 Wauvillians turned out to greet the new season. It seems like a good time was had by all. So, thanks to Leah and all the good folks at Wausau Area Events for a fun time!

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8 responses to “Friday 400: June 16, 2007

  1. I think we should quadruple the budget for this sort of thing. We need more festivals like this. As I noted in a previous post, Wisconsin is pathetic in its expenditure on the arts :

    The Concerts on the Square help alleviate a VERY EMBARRASSING situation.

  2. I could not agree with you more, Barry. I don’t know what the expenditures might be in the Wausau area, but it always could be better!

  3. I believe Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton will be in town next week to discuss the contribution the arts make to the local economy.

    Wausau Area Events is funded by the City of Wausau from room tax revenues and then we have a number of sponsors who step up to the plate to help make what we’re doing here possible. That’s important because almost all of the events are free of charge, with the exception of the Bluesfest.

    Room tax revenues also play a role in the budgets of the Performing Arts Foundation, the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Arts Museum, the Marathon County Historical Society, the Center for the Visual Arts and other organizations, but those efforts depend even more on people, businesses and foundations to make their work possible here.

  4. I appreciate the money trail Jim. However, what I really want is full acknowledgement that Wisconsin has failed in its obligation to the arts.

    This study presents rather stark figures:

    – 44th out of 50 states in per capita arts funding.
    – about 1/4 the arts spending per person as Minnesota.

    Riddle me this, what businesses would relocate their people to a state so weak in its investment to an aspect of life so central?

  5. Well, I agree with you that the figures show an issue STATEWIDE with respect to investment in the arts. Individual communities, however, can and do find a competitive edge by bucking that trend. It gives places like Wausau an opportunity to be a refreshing contrast and we are right to seize upon it. Even though we do, our commitment here doesn’t have a huge impact on the numbers statewide — but it makes a night and day difference in the smaller metro area in which our contribution has its real impact.

    Not everyone “gets it”, but a lot of people do. Here’s something about the small community of Spencer, where I visited in March (and you can catch a Chuck Mangione concert there October 19):

    When companies make decisions about where to locate, they are ultimately looking at specific communities. Investment in the arts is only one aspect of such a decision and where that falls in the list of priorities among various considerations will necessarily vary by who is making the decision. As for how important it is, well, I think you and I are probably pretty much on the same page. 🙂

  6. I honestly don’t think the arts plays that big of a role as to where a business would decide to locate. Quality of life does contribute toward employee retention and recruitment…

    But, I would think much more important factors than the arts would be taxes, availability of qualified employees, quality of infrastructure, and general business/political climate. Incentives in the form of infrastructure improvments (through TIF or BID funding) and various grants/tax credits for creation of jobs also are of heavy influence.

  7. I have to agree with Barry and Jim that the arts are probably a much bigger piece of the puzzle for where people want to live and grow their businesses. Companies (and people) don’t move to big cities cause their taxes are low, they move there cause there is wonderful things to do.

    I would also agree with Jim that a statewide picture is not necessarily reflective of a local situation, and perhaps Wausau is a good example. I feel as though the arts community is thriving here, and it shows.

    But that is not to say that it could not be better, but it does seem pretty good here.

  8. I don’t know much about business. I took 2 graduate business communication classes and that’s it for me. It seems logical to conclude though that businesses that see the continual growth of their employees as an obligationwill endure…all other businesses eventually fall by the wayside. Business is competitive and only the smart and adaptive business will ensure that its chief investment is the employee. Without the arts this development is simply not possible. Maslow’s hierarchy: self actualization is a need, not to be flouted without taking vengeance in other areas.

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