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OUR VIEW: Sharing in the delight of the performing arts center

The lack of public events at the Mitchell School District's performing arts center should be viewed as a learning experience, not as a failure.

Last week, we reported that the $15.3 million performing arts center went unused for public performances while students were away on summer break. That's right, a $15.3 million building owned by a public entity was not shared with the very public that made it possible. Although, to be fair, it was used for a few camps for students.

We speculate the rental cost — a $1,500 base fee plus additional expenses as needed —is probably too high for local nonprofits or other organizations to afford.

And the argument that other districts with performing arts facilities didn't have public performance during the summer, an argument made Monday night, is moot. Shouldn't Mitchell aim to be better than other districts?

The performing arts center is a wonderful facility for Mitchell, and we commend those Mitchell Board of Education members who had the guts to pull out all the stops and fund a top-of-the-line facility. But imagine if the Corn Palace — which we all can admit falls below the standard set by the brand new fine arts center — wasn't open and accessible for community events.

Imagine if the Cadwell Sports Complex wasn't open to adult baseball and softball at an affordable rate, if the Mitchell Activities Center didn't feature open skate sessions or if boats weren't allowed on Lake Mitchell. (Although, let's face it, we don't blame folks for not taking their boat out on the lake this year.)

If it's about high rental rates, there may be a problem.

The only business a public entity should be in is the business of sharing. Cost recovery is one thing, making profits is another.

We're confident the district will share its new facility in the coming year. It's just hard to see such a wonderful building sitting void of public performances for an entire summer, even if it's the first summer the building is open.

Fortunately for Mitchell and surrounding communities, the district is equipped with high quality administrators and school board members who will surely find a solution to ensure consistent use of the facility throughout the year.

There are few facilities like our fine arts center in the state, and Mitchell should be proud of what it has.

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