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Council requests more information on arts trust

The Rochester City Council on Monday asked leaders of the Greater Rochester Arts and Cultural Trust, formerly the Rochester Arts Council, to come back in four weeks and explain exactly how the organization will be restructuring itself.

Ever since the trust announced its name change earlier this month, many local arts advocates have wondered exactly what it will mean for local arts organizations. Some have worried the trust will become a conduit for distributing funding for arts projects and events, and that it could result in many groups being left out.

City Council President Randy Staver and other council members said they have received loads of emails and phone calls about the name change and restructuring.

In fact, council member Michael Wojcik gave the trust's Executive Director Bari Amadio a list of 21 questions he said he's collected from constituents and others in the community who are concerned about the matter.

However, Amadio has assured that the restructuring of the Arts Council has nothing to do with taking over funding decisions or trying to block out other arts organizations. She said it's is about trying to create a single group that can involve everybody in improving Rochester arts scene.


In an interview on Wednesday, Amadio said the main reason for the name change is to stop people from confusing the group with the Rochester Arts Center, which sounds a lot like Rochester Arts Council.

"I can't tell you how many phone calls I get about, 'Can we come over and tape at your art center?'" Amadio said.

She said the name change also reflects that the group wants its board to have a wider scope of expertise and that the group wants to be seen as trustees for the public in working to include all type of arts and organizations.

At the City Council meeting, Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede and some City Council members said they were not sure what Amadio and University of Minnesota Rochester Chancellor Stephen Lehmkuhle, the trust's board president, want from the City Council.

Amadio said that the trust wants to know what council members think of its new structure and in the future, whether the council and the mayor would be willing to get involved in appointing and/or approving its board members.

She said, however, that the trust is not asking for city funding.

Council members said they need more information about the trust structure, which Amadio said she would bring back to a City Council committee of the whole meeting in about four weeks.

Amadio said the organizational model the trust is considering would be, essentially, a think tank that can make recommendations and pull people together to achieve the trust's main goals for Rochester. Those goals are to: foster public art; help bring about a performing arts venue in Rochester; create comprehensive programming for the arts; and establish an ongoing funding stream, which might be a private-public model.

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