Monday, November 20, 2006

Oil City's Neil McElwee wants to ignore the arts

I can't even begin to tell you how cranky I am at Oil City's Council and their short-sightedness regarding their arts champion program. So angry, in fact, that I'm putting off my review of the new show at Pittsburgh's Craft Museum and my witticisms of Light Up Night (which ended abruptly for me - my wife insisting that we go home from the parade after I suggested a float with a crucified Santa with the caption, "He died for you?!". But I digress...)

"Experts say that it takes about 10 years to create a thriving arts and entertainment district," Weiss said. Who's Herb Weiss? The guy that Oil City brought into explain how to best create their arts revitazliation. Instead Neil McElwee says after six months: "We're not a sugar daddy that's going to be giving to them much longer"

Not to be overly cynical, but why do I think the money would be there for another , "Gee weren't the oil years great?" boondoggle.

Joann is doing a fantasic job and needs the support of council. Please consider writing the council and telling them that you think this project is worthwhile, not just to Oil City, but to the region.



Where the Creek and River Meets blogs about her growing excitement about last weekend's Light Up Night in Franklin.

The next time you're in downtown Franklin, make sure you duck into the alley to check out Ed Ramage's new mural, which, I believe, is still under construction:

The Movies at Meadville people are taking over the Carmike Cinemas at the Cranberry Mall:

It will be known as The Movies at Cranberry, according to an announcement made Wednesday by the mall. . . A renovation of the existing theaters inside Cranberry Mall will begin this winter. . . The existing theater, Carmike Cinemas, will close at the end of business on Monday. . .
Will there be a liquor license application though?

New Castle is one of Sprint's "secret cities" that will have Super High Speed Rev A Internet service. Golly that would be nice.

The Bunnies renact National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation in 30 seconds.

"R.L. Stine Presents: The Haunting Hours -- Don't Think About It," is filming in Pittsburgh even as we speak.

Allegehny County ups the ante on what riverside parks like our bike trail should look offer.

Former Allegheny Ludlum chairman Richard P. Simmons announced a $29.5 million pledge to the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, launching a long-term capital campaign for the world-renowned but financially struggling institution.

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reviews the world premiere of The Secret Letters of Jackie and Marilyn and is tepidly enthusaistic. However the review does carry the funniest criticms of all time:
The play's main weakness is with its third character, Patty, Marilyn's body waxer.
The waxer stays in the picture!

The Guardian is compliling a list of the 50 words of art to see before you die, and they want your help!


Joann said...

Thanks, Michael -- I'm a little cranky myself. By marketing this area as arts-friendly, I'm asking people to uproot themselves and move here -- only to hear that in the meantime Oil City has lost interest in them? I don't think so.

Jodi Robertson said...

Dear Cranky: First, I want to say that I read your blog in its entirety and hope that more people do so too. I'm sure your comment on a crucified santa will go over well in this area.

Secondly, in regard to your comments about Oil City Council's view on the arts council, I just want to point out to you that I suppose it is easy for someone from FRANKLIN to worry about funding the arts program in OIL CITY.

The boiler system. Who owns the National Transit Building? Did the art's council purchase it from someone? Does the city own it? I'm not sure but it was my understanding that Ray Beichner owned it. I could be wrong though as I do not keep up with daily downtown gossip. So, if the city does not own the building, why should the city pay for a new boiler? I mean correct me if I'm wrong, but shouldn't the building owner pay for the new boiler instead of me (I'm a taxpayer and that is who will be footing the bill)!? I personally know for a fact that the old Drake building is in need of new boiler also. I also personally know that many people have looked into opening up the Drake Theater again with the boiler being a big deterrence. So, I guess I should go petition city council for the money to get a new boiler for that building too. I guess every building owner downtown should contact the city for money to renovate and restore their buildings.

I know that since you pay taxes in Oil City that you should be able to have your say and opinion about the arts revitalization progr. . . . . . Wait a minute. . . . . YOU DON'T PAY TAXES IN OIL CITY.

So Cranky, I guess you can just keep your thoughts on how to spend my tax money to yourself. Unless of course you think that they should pay me to do nothing for the city because that's exactly what an artist community is going to do for Oil City, NOTHING. So maybe I will petition Oil City to put my on the payroll. Thanks for opening my eyes to this. I could use the extra income since Oil City taxes me to death anyway.

Thanks Cranky.

Jodi Robertson

PS Is it true that the "emergency management systems tax" in Franklin is still $10 because for one to work in Oil City one must pay $52. It is this sort of thing that makes me "cranky". Well, this and giving my tax money to the arts revitalization program.

Dittman said...

Hi Jodi- Please, call me Michael - we're all friends here.

I'm glad you dropped by and enjoyed the blog, and while I think references are spoiled when they have to be explained, I'll clue you in that the Santa reference is an old urban legend as well as a comment on the over-commercialization of the second most holy day of the year to Christians like me.

I don't worry about Franklin or Oil City. I worry about Venango County and how we, yes, you too, can make it a friendly place for the arts. If you have good idea that would bring in money, talent, and ideas to area then, yep, I do think you should petition everyone you know to help you out - that's why it's the idea of an arts "community", but telling people to shut up when you disagree with them, ummmmm, not so condusive to bringing new people and new ideas to a region sorely in need of them.

Finally, I'm sorry that your taxes are an undue burden upon you. I hope, in the spirit of the holiday season, that your financial situation turns around soon.

Jodi Robertson said...

Michael, Thanks for explaining the urban legend to me I was unaware of it. So while we're explaining things I just wanted to point out that Dec. 25 is probably not Christ's real birthday and as I'm sure you already know, Christmas actually stems from the pagan holiday of Yule. Here's a link to a very informative website.

By the way, please reread my post. As you will see, nowhere does it say shut up. It simply says, please keep your ideas to yourself about how the city you don't live in should spend its taxpayer money. However, since you think that my saying that makes me unfriendly to artists, I guess, "in the spirit of the season" I will say I’m sorry that you were offended. I don't oppose an artist community, I just oppose funding it with tax dollars. Also, I wanted to let you know that My husband and I put together a halloween parade in Oil City this year with the hopes it will turn into a fall festival. Our hopes and plans were to showcase local artists and their work in the plaza for 3 days. My husband e-mailed and called Ms. Wheeler about this idea with the hopes to talk with her, get her ideas/input and get a list of local (and out of state artists) but we still have not heard from Joann. As we all are, I know Ms. Wheeler is busy. I also know she's working on the film festival and her responsibilities as the arts "champion" keep her busy as well. However, I still think she could have at least made some kind of attempt to return our messages. Even if she could not help us out it still would have been nice to have an acknowledgment.

One last thought. As far as bringing new ideas to the area. To be honest, most artist communities are very liberal with very liberal ideas. I lived near Ann Arbor, MI for a while so I do have personal knowledge about this topic. It just seems strange to me that a Christian man would want to bring "new ideas" to the area, a lot of which are contrary to G-d's Word.

And lastly, thanks for hoping the best for my financial situation. When you have a 4 year old daughter that was born with a congenital heart defect, had open heart surgery at 4 months old and now she has to go to Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh quite often for catheterizations and angioplasty, as you would imagine it can get quite expensive. So thank you, I truly do appreciate it.

Jodi Robertson

Dittman said...

Sorry Jodi - you'll never convince me that the arts and religion are naturally at odds. Likewise, you're not going to convince me that there's anything more than a semantic difference between "shut up" and "keep your ideas to yourself."
It sounds like you have a personal issue with Joann. You should try to contact her again so you can clear up the issue. It's not healthy to carry things like that around.
Regardless, I'll keep your daughter in my prayers. My child too was hospitalized for months following her birth. If you have some sort of charity fund set up for yourself, I'd be glad to send a donation and feature the address in the blog so that it could reach as many people as possible.

Right now, though I've got to go find some Yule Logs to give as a present to all my pagan friends. Black Friday, here I come!

Jodi Robertson said...

Michael, Although your satire and humor is much appreciated. You side stepped every point I made about taxpayer money funding the arts, as well as who should pay for the boiler system and you didn’t even bother to answer my question about the emergency system tax. I've learned about this sort of debating by watching the many liberals on TV. That's not to say you're a liberal, I've just seen the tactic before.

Also, donations can be sent directly to me at:
7 Vo Tech Drive
Oil City, PA 16301

Contributions are not tax deductible though. They should be considered more of gift really.

So Happy Yule Tide to ya.

Jodi Robertson

Dittman said...

Jodi - This isn't really a "debate" blog, more of an informational sort of thing. That said, I've been pretty clear about how I feel about tax money supporting the arts - I'm 100% for it, and that includes courting artists with tax incentives the same way we do businesses. (as the great philosopher Jay-Z said, "I'm not a businessman, I'm a business, man"). It's an investment, plain and simple, like roads or other infrastructure. I can point you towards ton of boring research, but what it boils down to is $1 spent on art revitalization returns $3. It's like paying school taxes even when you don't have kids going there - you do it because it elevates the entire communtiy.
As far as your boiler question, I would never presume to speak for the Oil City Arts Council, but you could contact them:
206 Seneca Street
Oil City, PA 16301
and I bet they would be happy to explain it to you.
As far as Franklin taxes go, I can't help you either. As a working artist, I have a very complicated tax situation which means I have a guy who does it all for me. However, you could contact city hall at:
City Hall
430 Thirteenth Street
Franklin, Pennsylvania 16323
Contact: E. William Gabrys III
Position: City Clerk
Phone: (814) 437-1485
Fax: (814) 437-1119
It was lovely talking to you, I hope you'll continue reading the blog, and, as they say, the check is in the mail.

Jodi Robertson said...

Michael, It truly has been fun bantering with you and I can respect your views.

I didn't know that Jay-Z was so inspirational but I too, will sign off, with wise words from one the greatest philosophers of all times.

Tha, tha, tha, that's all folks. -Porky Pig

Joann said...


I just read your exchange with Michael Dittman -- I'm sorry, but I haven't received any phone messages or emails from your husband, though I read with interest about his Halloween plans. My city email is My home email is above. My office number is 814-676-5303. I'm not sure how he has tried to contact me, and I apologize if you think I've been ignoring him -- I simply haven't heard from him.
I'd be happy to help in any way I can -- I have a database of over 300 area artists which I would be happy to share with Dan, and I think a Fall festival would be a great thing for Oil City.


Joann Wheeler