Lee’s Summit Arts Council unsure of role in downtown performance space

rpulley@lsjournal.comJanuary 17, 2014 

The Lee’s Summit Arts Council is asking for guidance on what the City Council expects from it regarding development of an outdoor performance venue downtown.

The arts council, with six members present, voted unanimously to make a presentation to the City Council in February to explain its recommendation so far.

The recommendation reads:

“The LSAC recommends that the City Council support the on-going community collaborative process to:

1. Continue the development of the outdoor performance space at 123 3rd Street;

2. Investigate the inclusion of a redeveloped Arnold Hall into a “white box” that will complement and support the outdoor performance space;

3. Develop an operational plan for both the outdoor performance area and Arnold Hall, ensuring the future sustainability of both facilities while supporting the Cultural Facilities Master Plan and the Cultural Arts Plan.

The LSAC looks forward to working closely with the City as the process advances.”

Gary Fruits, chair of a subcommittee working on the recommendation, said it was his interpretation of that the city council wanted the Arts Council opinion on land surrounding Arnold Hall.

For that reason, the council again asked for turning Arnold Hall into a white box space. It did little to advance the process, because the council already has designated the site for the outdoor performance space, and the Arts Council has already asked the council to reuse Arnold Hall.

Deputy City Manager Brian Scott said the council wants to limit the amount of $600,000 budget being spent on architects or consultants.

LSAC member Beth Lindquest said the council needs to ask the city to spend some money on finding a way to reuse Arnold Hall.

“Are we going to ask for money to do that? If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen,” Lindquest said.

Council member Rob Binney, liaison to the Arts Council, said he didn’t see a lot in the recommendation for the council to act on. He was mostly quiet during the meeting.

Scott said the last two items of the recommendation would cover that issue.

“The stumbling block is the relationship of Arnold Hall to the outdoor space,” Scott said. Architects don’t know how to design either until the Arts Council and City Council have decided whether or not to include Arnold Hall, he said.

Scott said that Hollis+Miller architects were willing to conduct one more community meeting to work on ideas, without charging the city additional fees.

The council also discussed a grant request from Metropolitan Community College-Longview to present “Seuss on the Loose” by Coterie Theater at Longview Elementary School.

Members briefly discussed the request, but reluctantly turned it down because it didn’t meet policy set for grants, including that they needed to be for public events. The performance was only for that elementary school and only a couple of grades, and wouldn’t be open to the public.

The vote was three yes, with three abstaining, on a motion to deny the request.

Arts Council members thought a grant might be appropriate if a larger school audience was involved or at more schools. It decided to assign possible revision of its policy to a subcommittee.

However, the council made a procedural error.

Joe Snook, assistant administrator of the parks department, said he checked with the city clerk to be certain on what was required in the vote. A yes vote on a motion requires at least six of the 11 members, so the decision was invalid, he said. It will be brought back to the board in February.

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