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Please attend SCFD’s public meeting on March 24, 2011

Labor protests in Wisconsin and across the Midwest have shown once again that public protest is often our only tool to reverse bad policy & legislation. There’s no shortage of bad policy that is dragging our local industry down and the worst offender continues to be the Scientific & Cultural Facilities District (SCFD). As in Wisconsin, we have no option but to stand up collectively to SCFD’s anti-labor practices or suffer the consequences as work opportunities continue to erode. The occasion for our show of solidarity will be a public SCFD meeting on Thursday, March 24 at 1:00 PM. We need as many DMA members to show as we can possibly turn out.

I first began detailing SCFD’s negative industry impact in 1997 after volunteering to serve on a Tier III review committee. Lack of quality standards, education standards and accountability were enough for me to sound the alarm. More alarming than that was the fact that SCFD leaders really couldn’t care less.

SCFD was up for reauthorization in November of 2004. The Colorado Business Committee for the Arts (CBCA) was again lobbying on behalf of SCFD, and contacted the Denver Area Labor Federation for its endorsement. DALF originally endorsed SCFD in 1988 after union members were repeatedly told that SCFD would result in quality employment for artists and performers. Who would have expected that SCFD would aggressively defend a $40 million funding model ABSENT wage or quality standards of any kind.

The DMA, in cooperation with IATSE and SAG/AFTRA, advised DALF to hold off on the endorsement until SCFD would at least commit to quality and minimum wage standards as originally represented to the voters. These sentiments were expressed by DALF President Leslie Moody in her August 17, 2004 letter to CBCA. The letter also pointed out that DALF’s endorsement would be conditional on meeting with representatives of affected unions. Nothing ever came of that effort. Subsequently, a resolution “not to endorse” was passed at the 2004 Colorado AFL-CIO Convention.

SCFD’s resolve to fund nearly every applicant, regardless of quality, continued in the years since reauthorization. Approximately 350 organizations are now dependent on SCFD funding and must in turn “serve the community” when few have any interest or ability to do so. Over 30 community orchestras now reside in the seven county funding district and collectively pull prevailing wage downward more than any other factor. Many of these organizations continue to pirate professional engagements, and only for ignorant and selfish reasons.

If you’re wondering where this is headed, look only to the current example of the Colorado Chamber Orchestra (CCO). In its three years of operation, the CCO has shown an unprecedented 300% growth in budget, despite the economic downturn. In addition to scale wages, CCO makes pension contributions for their musicians under a collective bargaining agreement with DMA. CCO is one of the few organizations that is truly qualified to serve the public in the manner that the SCFD statute demands. Unbelievably, SCFD refuesed to allow CCO to even apply.

But the fact is, accomplishments in both quality and professionalism are meaningless in this game because SCFD never has and never will make artistic judgements. Consequently, the doors are closing on new applicants because SCFD has no ability to weed undeserving organizations out. All 350 lucky organizations who are now grandfathered into this system will continue to receive funding for the foreseeable future. All those looking to apply should accept the fact that the glory days of signing every 501©3 with a pulse are now over.

The time is NOW! Please attend:

SCFD BOARD OF DIRECTORS MEETING
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Broomfield Council on the Arts & Humanities
640 Main St.
Broomfield, CO 80038
12:30 Board lunch, 1:00 p.m. public meeting