A performing arts centre isn't in the cards just yet until "the private sector and the provincial and federal governments kick in as much as two-thirds of the estimated $60-million cost," local politicians announced yesterday with some regret, imagining that culture and creativity depend on their rhetorical and revenue interventions. Although city staff are "not convinced the private sector will kick in $20 million," the simple act of declaring it as a possibility, no matter how remote, will transform it into enough of a prospect to keep the arts centre on the agenda for continued planning and investment. Less remote, of course, is the possibility that a provincial or federal government will at some point find a public relations need for a funding announcement in London… and every other city eventually until the net effect on taxpayers in London is the same. No stake will ever be driven through the heart of this beast, because it doesn't have one…
But $20 million, or at least vague commitments to an amount close enough for politicians to go ahead, is not so unlikely an event to transpire. In what has become the ordinary run of business here in London, investors realize that they can buy into the public relations goodwill of any politically-motivated project while taxpayers bear the burden of risks for debt and operating costs (remember the John Labatt Centre). If there were any sound financial prospects to be found at all in a performing arts centre like the one politicians hope to erect in their own image, investors would be buying stakes in their own model instead.
Check out this on-line poll on the London Free Press that, as typical, requires the reader to interpret not his own response but how it can be used against him.
Update, September 28: Another London Free Press on-line poll has been spiked by someone with enough troops and motivation to blitz the optics of the results — not for the first or second time. Poll results were consistently trending at about a 70% "No" response from the evening of September 26 when the poll was first published and up to at least 1 PM on September 27, with about 400 votes at that time — fairly standard for the newspaper's on-line polls, which regularly attract between 400 to 600 responses. This result was captured at approximately 12 AM September 28:
Speaking of the Free Press, is there any sight more humiliating than people begging on the front page of a daily newspaper for other people's money without having the courage to ask them directly for it?
More: teens who don't pay property taxes are solicited for "cool" ideas with what to do with property taxes in downtown London. Hurrah!