Tag Archives: miller theater

Top Ten List of Top Tens

Top Ten Favorite Movies

  1. Casablanca
  2. Shakespeare in Love
  3. A Little Chaos
  4. Beauty and the Beast (Disney version)
  5. XXX
  6. Moulin Rouge
  7. Darjeeling Ltd
  8. The Longest Week
  9. Mulan
  10. Now, Voyager

Top Ten Favorite Songs

  1. Show Must Go On by Queen
  2. Life is Beautiful by Sixx AM
  3. It’s My Life (ballad version) by Bon Jovi
  4. Northside by Tim Brantley
  5. Hold On To Your Dream by Rick Springfield
  6. 50 Ways to Say Goodbye by Train
  7. And So I Pray by Jem
  8. I’m Not Ok by My Chemical Romance
  9. Still Got the Blues by Gary Moore
  10. A Song for You by Ray Charles

Top Ten Favorite Places to spend money

  1. Target
  2. Clinique
  3. Publix
  4. Hallmark
  5. Michael’s
  6. Stein Mart
  7. Dillard’s
  8. Art on Broad
  9. Book Tavern
  10. Barnes and Noble

Top Ten Favorite Causes

  1. Miller Theater
  2. Golden Harvest Food Bank
  3. Augusta Symphony
  4. Leadership Augusta
  5. Child Enrichment
  6. Leukemia Lymphoma Society
  7. Friends of Augusta Animal Services
  8. Salvation Army
  9. Safehomes
  10. Heritage Academy

Top Ten Favorite Writers

  1. David Sedaris
  2. Will Schwalbe
  3. Fr. Gregory Boyle
  4. Adam Grant
  5. DH Lawrence
  6. Atul Gawande
  7. Russell Brand
  8. Elizabeth Gilbert
  9. Joan Didion
  10. Anais Nin
  11. Amor Towles

Top Ten Favorite Bands

  1. Queen
  2. Sixx AM
  3. Linkin Park
  4. Bon Jovi
  5. REM
  6. Matchbox Twenty
  7. Edison Project
  8. Styx
  9. Journey
  10. No Doubt

Favorite Singers

  1. Rick Springfield
  2. Jem
  3. George Michael
  4. Russ Taff
  5. John Mayer
  6. Tim Brantley
  7. David Ford
  8. David Owen
  9. Sade
  10. Edith Piaf

Top Ten Favorite Hotels

  1. Charleston Place
  2. Chateau Elan
  3. Margaritaville Nashville
  4. Vendue Charleston
  5. Hermitage Nashville
  6. Proximity Greensboro NC
  7. Ritz Lodge Lake Oconee
  8. Studio 154 Nashville
  9. Shamrock Ocala
  10. Four Seasons Whistler

 

Top Ten Favorite Foods to Eat

  1. Cinnabon
  2. Shells and Cheese
  3. Takosushi Kevin’s Roll
  4. Guacamole and Chips from Caesar at Poblano’s
  5. Fluff (mine)
  6. Pancakes (mine)
  7. French Toast
  8. Lefse (Dad)
  9. Egg Breakfast Food (Mom)
  10. Lasagne

Top Ten Favorite Books

  1. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
  2. Tattoos on the Heart by Fr. Gregory Boyle
  3. 10% Happier by Dan Harris
  4. Books for Living by Will Schwalbe
  5. Selected Poetry of Rilke, trans. Stephen Mitchell
  6. Everybody Always by Bob Goff
  7. Everything that Remains by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus
  8. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
  9. Naked by David Sedaris
  10. Give and Take by Adam Grant

11. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Leap of Faith-Let’s Grow Augusta

GROW_SHARE

It was bound to happen, sooner or later. When my friends and I decided to start a pro-SPLOST Facebook page, we knew there would be challengers. I didn’t expect it on day 2, but I also didn’t expect to get over 90 “likes” by day 2, either. So I guess we’ve got people’s interest, anyway.

Our strategy for managing the negative posts is simple: Respond if Reasonable or Remove if Ranting. We certainly welcome a healthy dialogue to the pros and cons of the issue, which we knew would be a little controversial, because of that dreaded 3-letter word (T-A-X). More on that later.

I cannot decide if Tom’s postings qualify as Reasonable or Ranting, so for now I will give him the benefit of the doubt. I know it is not likely that I can sway Tom over to my point of view, but I have to try. He posted 5 times in succession, which may be a strategy to get people to read everything, since we all have a short attention span on Facebook and rarely make it past the second sentence. Smart approach, but it feels a little bit like the kid on the playground who keeps poking you in the chest, until you respond or walk away.

Tom brings up valid questions, however, so I will put in some comments for his (and other people’s) consideration. The first and most important thing to address is his last question, which leaves no doubt regarding his point of view. TAXES. Nobody likes them, but SPLOST at least is a tax on everyone, including visitors from out of town. Without SPLOST, there would have to be a spike in property taxes, which is far worse. The Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax which we will be voting for on May 20th is a continuation of a penny tax already in existence. The strategy behind the current SPLOST package is not about a traditional tax that pays for your infrastructure. It is about an investment that encourages future growth of our city, and brings in the ever-attractive “OPM”-Other People’s Money.

Who are the “OP”? Let me give you 3 examples. The first is related to the Miller Theater on Broad Street, who is courting a foundation outside of the city. That foundation has indicated interest in the project if the city and voters also show their support for the endeavor. Foundations, like businesses looking to relocate here, like to see a city that works together to make things happen. Working on behalf of SPLOST shows we want to invest in new projects that will take our community to the next level.

The next is the biggie: the GRU cancer center. Even if you are normally against this kind of tax, or you don’t understand the economic development impact of supporting the arts, or have issues with some of the line items in the package, it is hard to argue that the cancer center will bring in a value of $300 million to the city. That includes grant money and people visiting for treatment. Making sure the cancer center happens should be a unanimous concern for all of us, particularly because the state of Georgia (and the African-American community in particular) is under-served when it comes to cancer treatment and research.

Finally,  “OP” are tourists. By having amazing attributes such as the Augusta Canal, Phinizy Swamp Nature Park, a theater district in a thriving downtown, and a History Museum telling stories about Masters history and James Brown, we can offer tourists a diversified portfolio of entertainment, education and culture. These entities can often sustain on their own, but when they want to expand, they need some support from the community to do so. They provide the kind of interest, charm, beauty and heritage that inspires pride in the residents (current and future) and entice visitors to return.

Tom, I know I didn’t answer all of your questions, but hopefully I did address the one big underlying question hidden in your posts: WHY. With 4,000 new jobs coming in to Augusta as part of the Fort Gordon Cyber Command (bringing predictions as high as 15,000 people moving to Augusta in related industries in the coming years), investing in all facets of our community seems the wise thing to do. Is it a bit of a leap of faith to assume all of the projects in the package will come to positive fruition for the city? Yes, it is. For my part, I believe in the agencies being supported, and what their work means to our future. I hope that you can believe, too. Thanks for the questions.

The Best Board of Directors Meeting

I have served on various Boards through the years, and it fascinates me how different each one is. Group dynamics vary with the size and personality of the organization, and I am always keen on finding a Board that matches my skills and interests. I tend to like a structured format, and now that I have enjoyed the efficiency of that type of group, I’m sure I would  find it difficult to go back into something less formal.

For the sake of comparison, I will tell you about one of the less formal Boards I have encountered. They had many issues, most notably a lack of fiscal responsibility and an excess of drama. I will not name the organization, because I would hate to cause them any grief. They just weren’t a good fit for me. The meetings never lasted less than 2 hours and often teetered close to the 3 hour mark. I rarely stayed to the bitter end. Even if I didn’t have anything pressing to do, I would get up and leave early as a statement of silent protest for the length of non-productive discussion.

By contrast, the most formal and efficient Board I have experienced is the Symphony Orchestra Augusta (SOA). I assumed a spot on the Board after my boss’s term came to an end; the dealership needed representation with the organization we support the most. When I received the welcome letter with a copy of the organizational guidelines, I was impressed. When I participated in the new Board member orientation, I was pleased. In the 2 years since then, I have found the group to be productive, organized, and appreciative of the people who serve.

At the time I joined, SOA was undergoing an intensive and detailed study to assess the feasibility of renovating the historic Miller Theater downtown. Having fallen into a state of disrepair, the building was purchased and saved by Peter Knox, who generously offered it to SOA as a home for their performances. Mr. Knox wisely knew that if this amazing structure was to ever be resuscitated, it would require a group as solid and well-connected as the Symphony. The building needed a purpose, and SOA needed a home. It was an odd pairing, though: this artsy, run-down architectural wonder with a conservative cultural establishment. I loved the building long before I joined the Symphony Board, so witnessing the amount of work they were putting into the study of saving it made me even more impressed with my new Board family.

Although the building was offered as a gift, the organization did not accept it right away. For 2 ½ years,  as community patience ran thin, SOA took meticulous care to assess if it was a wise move. Assuming responsibility of bringing the theater back to life was a risk, and a costly one-both from a financial standpoint and a PR standpoint. It took a great deal of vision and even more faith to think that we could add “managing a multi-purpose theater” to our already ambitious list of obectives.  We were fortunate that a generous benefactor covered the cost of several consultants who guided us in our decision-making. They helped answer questions about acoustics, sustainability and fundraising. The entire process was incredibly arduous, but fortunately (again) for us, one of our Board members volunteered his time to lead the adventure, and his dedication and tenacity would ultimately determine the Miller’s fate. I’m speaking, of course, of the intelligent and amazing Levi Hill IV.

Levi articulately reported on his progress at each Board meeting throughout that 2 ½ year period. Toward the end of that time, as the consultants reports began to take final form, his team held coffee meetings with Board members to have in-depth dialogue about the pros and cons of the project.  I was blown away at the due diligence that was going behind this one simple question: do we accept Peter Knox’s offer to give us his beautiful and run-down building?

It may have been one question, but the answer held enormous potential. The Miller could save the Symphony by giving us relevance and new connections in a time when symphonic organizations all across the country are struggling with their old business models. The SOA could save the Miller by giving it the strength of a 50+ year heritage of excellence. The Symphony would have a home, and the Miller would have a new lease on life. As an added bonus, a struggling downtown would have a growing theater district, and Augusta would have a new venue to fit perfectly in the spectrum of other performance halls available in our area. The risk was high, but the potential for positive results was even higher.

In the end, the consultant’s report came back with a reassuring message: this can work. There was a caveat to that message, though: it will only work if you commit to it fully, and believe in it completely. Within the SOA organization and board, we cannot afford any dissention or doubt. You are in or you are out. Do not accept this building half-heartedly. It has to be passionately agreed upon, or rejected. After years of study and debate, it was time to stand up and be counted.

The date was set for a Board meeting called especially for the multi-million dollar decision. At 5pm on September 22nd, 2011, we met at the SunTrust Board Room downtown. Any board or staff member who could not physically be there dialed in via teleconference. I never thought I would see the day when I would be excited to attend a Board meeting. There was no way I would have missed it.

Board President Joe Huff called the meeting to order. He welcomed the group with his rare gift of balancing the gravity of the moment with charm and lightness. He meticulously explained the rules of how the meeting would proceed. He gave a clear message to us that if we voted ‘yes’ today with our voices, we would be asked to vote ‘yes’ tomorrow with our wallets. It would take all of us contributing to the project with our time, talents and resources to pull off this miracle.

Attendance was called and everyone was accounted for. Joe instructed us to go around the room and offer a comment regarding the choice at hand. Each person had the chance to voice their spin on the decision, revealing their hopes, doubts and fears.

You would think that having so many individuals offering their opinion on a single topic would be drawn-out, boring drudgery, especially toward the end. The exact opposite happened. As each person spoke, we began to feel the momentum build. To our amazement, each person expressed hopefulness for the project. Despite many who admitted to severe reservations early in the process, they also described how their concerns were addressed, fears were abated, and enthusiasm grew. My mood changed from trepidation that the vote might not pass, to excitement as it began to look like it might even be unanimous. I was going to be a part of history, and it was unfolding before my eyes.

Finally the last person had shared their thoughts, and it was time for the official vote. Each member’s name was called out, and they responded with their final and official answer. Do you want the SOA to accept the gift of the Miller Theatre, make it our home, and assume responsibility for a revitalized theater in downtown Augusta? Name after name was called, and we all felt honored to offer our enthusiastic “Yes”. The power in the moment of knowing the decision was unanimous is not one I will ever forget. Symphony Orchestra Augusta was entering a new phase of collaborations and involvement in the community. We were going to have a home, downtown was getting a theater, and Augusta was saving a piece of her history. That’s the power of an efficient Board.