Grand Illusion

Ten years ago, Grand Center Inc. set out to create the region's "premier arts, entertainment and education district." They fixed the sidewalks and brought in the lights. It's a nice place to visit, but nobody stays.

Then she returns to the fundraising question. "Absolutely," she says in regards to support for the midsize groups, but then qualifies that statement: "We have to be asked to help. We offer 'What can we do for you?' It's got to be a collaborative kind of effort."

The label "facilitator" can mean a way of removing oneself from ultimate responsibility. "This community has to say that these things are of value to the community and will fund them," says Ruwitch. "I don't think an organization like Grand Center doing that for them is the answer."

It is ironic that in 2004's assessment of the strengths and needs of St. Louis' artistic community, two points were made especially clear: First, there is a critical need for an 1,800-2,000-seat performing-arts space, with the Medinah Temple being the most feasible and advantageous site. Second, the study stressed the lack of artistic leadership in the community.

For 10 years Grand Center Inc. has owned the Medinah. And, after 10 years, it remains part of the leadership vacuum.

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