The ebullient enthusiasm with which Madison rushed into the construction of the Overture Center for the Arts without a lot of thinking about the underlying economics was part of the bubble economy that tanked so recently.
There was a manic rush to rebuild the downtown on a massive scale without seeming limit. There was business to be done, condos to be built, and the "condo magnet" was at the heart of it all. Now the consequences are all too clear. Now there is news of layoffs, declining budgets and reduced revenues. Overture president Tom Carto sketched out the new realities:
"It's a perfect storm in the demise of the trust fund and the financial crisis everyone is feeling right now," Carto said. "The 2009 budget is looking pretty dire. We have to respond. We're compelled to have a balanced budget. We're going to do that."But, man, they sure do put on a gorgeous light show for the holidays.
Overture expects to end the current year with a $380,000 shortfall, which will be covered with a surplus from 2007 and about $100,000 from the private 201 State Foundation, Carto said.
Carto said he and managers combed through the budget to find savings for next year, but it became clear that layoffs were unavoidable.