Arts groups want more information about impact of Parcel 5 plans

Aug 3, 2017

Credit RBTL/LaBella Associates

A proposal for putting a performing arts center in downtown Rochester is raising some concerns among area arts organizations.

WXXI News has learned that letters from the Arts and Cultural Council for  Greater Rochester,  and some of the organizations it represents including Geva Theatre Center and the RPO were sent to City Council members this week, asking for more transparency and information.

In April, Mayor Lovely Warren announced her choice for development of a key downtown spot, Parcel 5, to be the location for a complex that would include a 3,000 seat performing arts center, housing, retail and restaurants.

Dawn Lipson is president of the board of the Arts and Cultural Council. She says the various arts groups are not dismissing the idea of a performing arts center out of hand, they just want City Council to do more study about its impact.

“One of the things that Rochester is known for is being a city of the arts, and we do not want to sacrifice the arts we already have to bolster another art form. I think we want all of them to survive and survive in the best possible manner.”

Lipson says a number of her members say they want more information about the proposal and they want to see a more transparent process.

“I’m hearing from a lot of our arts organization members that they weren’t asked, nobody reached out to them. And I think that an open public dialogue about this proposal and allowing these arts organizations to participate in that dialogue, I think is important.”

The letter from the Arts & Cultural Council to City Council members says "there is public confusion and lack of information" concerning the current proposal for Parcel 5. The letter says there is "a serious concern over the impact on downtown and the entire corridor, including the area of the Auditorium Theatre, " and it says that "using this parcel to support one organization at the possible expense of others is troubling."

The performing arts center project proposal will be a joint venture between Morgan Communities and RBTL. Philanthropist Tom Golisano has pledged $25 million toward the estimated $130 million project.

City Council would have to approve the project.  There was no immediate response to the arts groups' concerns from city council or city hall officials.