By John Roberts, Sedona Resident
(March 29, 2019)
The Sedona Red Rock News 3/22 editorial headlined by,”History of the fall of Sedona Cultural Park.” was factual and well researched. Explaining the operating headwinds the Park management experienced was good for those who favored the Park’s concept to understand. However there was more which was also a part of this history and it follows to the extent that my participation then as president of the Sedona Arts Center ( SAC ) Board in it allows.
This failure commenced at the same time Jane Vojnovich had given the Sedona Arts Center $1,000,000. Discussions had begun to have the Park and SAC join as one cultural entity. This failed to jell after the Park was unable to furnish SAC with their business plan as had been requested by SAC. Also pertinent was the executive director of SAC, Chuck Raison, who had considerable reservations about the future viability of the Park based on what was then known about the Park’s plans. His background before arriving at SAC was to have set up similar cultural centers as the Park intended here as he did in Pittsburgh and Cleveland. Chuck did not believe the population here was large enough to allow the Park to achieve financial stability.
The Park was also apparently having difficulty in gaining sponsorships outside of town in sufficient dollar amounts to cover program costs and offset any shortage of local population attendance revenues. The revenue gap became another potential severe headwind. These facts along with Jane’s opposition to a joint venture had their effect in stopping the Park program. At this point SAC decided to use the million dollar gift to design and construct the building now facing on89A at their compound and not share it with the Park in any joint venture.
For a rebirth in the original format conceived by the Park this revenue gap has to be resolved. Financial reality and the past insolvency of the Park cannot be ignored. There must be reasonable assurance of a return on any investment.