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Letters to the Editor

By Staff | Sep 6, 2013

Hello Steering Committee members and interested Parties,

I must first give all that helped with the Lyric projection conversion the greatest of credit. The fund-raising and grant accomplishments were second to none. With that main mission accomplished, our beloved Lyric has a new breath of life. Now, the question is, ‘Where does the Lyric go from here?’.

As you all may know, at the outset, the “community committee” began with 80+ individuals, and as time went on, only included 20 or so. I am still on that Steering Committee, never resigning nor becoming inactive. Sadly, since my stepping down from the Lyric Manager and Operations Co-Chair positions, I have never since been advised of any further Committee meetings. However, over the last several months I have remained active, liberally providing the “board” advice in trade practices and procedures, mechanical, compliance (safety & regulatory), and monies. For the most part, I had been ignored. It suprises me of the absence of basic fundemental requirements of business practices. With that said, I must address some concerns.

1) “Friends of the Lyric” is not registered to do business in North Dakota (at last knowledge); they have solicited 10’s of thousands of dollars, but are not registered as a ‘Charitable Organization”; it is not known if they have accomplished their 501(C)3 orientation (in fact a 501(C)4 would be more appropriate); many people had been led to believe (or confused) that their donations would be “tax-deductable”, either through the NDCF, or directly. What will happen if they try to file their returns reflecting this belief? Perhaps trigger an audit?

2) As Contracts/Agreements have been tendered and party endorsed as Friends of the Lyric, are these Contracts/Agreements valid without being lawfully registered as a business entity to conduct business in North Dakota, becoming null and void?

a) “officers” of the Friends of the Lyric” were “elected”, I believe, in January (?). How many of you were there to vote? Were you even notified/in the “loop”? I was there, and as I recall, only 8 individuals were present, and the “officers” were chosen from that small group…one even “signed up” over the phone! Is this proper procedure for a COMMUNITY project?

3) Having a copy of the Proposal for the digital equipment and updates, who “owns” this equipment? The “Friends of the Lyric”, or the JDA, of which who’s property the equipment is attached to? Should the Lyric real estate be sold, what equipment is included?

4) Addressing the ‘sold’ issue. It is my feeling that the Lyric should always remain the Community’s theatre. Returning to a private ownership, eventually we will come right back to where we are now, trying to ‘save’ our theatre…again. Viable options:

a) The City of Rugby own/operate the theatre as a function of the Park District. Hiring a Manager to perform day to day activities;

b) Create a Coop form of business where shares are sold to all interested community members with a right to vote on restoration and operational matters, and officers. This was the case to viably retain the Art Theatre, in Champaign, IL. It is now very successful! If anyone would like to follow-up on this option, let me know, I will assist with information/contacts. Again, a Manager would be put into place.

As attractive as volunteerism is to any businesses’ bottom line, it is a volatile practice with nobody assuming accountability/responsibility, nor have a viable stake to correctly guide the theatre toward long-term success. Not to mention a weekly “guessing-game” if help will be available or not.

5) As referenced to in 2a, all Steering Committe members, please be active in this endeavor. The Lyric Theatre is YOUR/OUR theatre, not just a small group’s. Participate! And to the “Friends of the Lyric”, practice inclusion. This can be accomplished through constant unbroken communications/updates/meetings, and respect toward the entire Steering Committee membership (whether a member has a different opinion or not), not just among yourselves. It is a suspicion that a private “business opportunity” is be constructed upon the donations and labor of community members and organizations, and this suspicion must not prove to be correct.

6) As applauded, the current “Friends of the Lyric” “board/officers”, regardless of their status, deserves huge credit for getting the Lyric to this crucial point. As I said, they were second to none in fundraising!

It is what they have done best.

The future now rests on management, showmanship, promotion and community participation. Time for that particular group to step forward!

7) Not yet addressed: Health and Safety issues for patrons, contractors and volunteers.

I had taken the liberty to attach a copy of some of my comments after the first community meeting. Some suggestions have been accomplished, some yet to tackle. WE can do it … ALL together, and included! Always,


Scott Graham

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