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City Backs Summer Festival

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City backs summer festival

By Chong W. Pyen

The Ann Arbor Summer Festival, said to be designed to make the city the capital of performing arts in the Midwest and boost the local economy at the same time, was endorsed by the City Council Monday.

Six persons were also nominated to the board of directors of the festival group which will be incorporated as a non-profit agency. Earlier, the University of Michigan, acting as the city’s partner in the cultural venture, approved the same measure and named its own six directors.

MAYOR LOUIS D. Belcher named these six city representatives to board of directors: William J. Gudenau, president of the Conference and Visitors Bureau of the Chamber of Commerce; George D. Goodman, Ypsilanti mayor; James Packard, a U-M executive and “inventor” of the program; Mayor Belcher as an ex-officio member; Eugene Power, a former U-M regent and philanthropist; and Susan Morris, a former president of the Ann Arbor Civic Theater. The council is expected to confirm their appointment next week.

The festival would offer a variety of theatrical, musical and other cultural events during a summer period.

Some Democrats questioned why the city should become involved in a private corporation and expressed concern over the city’s financial liability. “I’m supportive of the concept, and it promises to be exciting,” said Councilman Earl E. Greene, D-Second Ward, asking City Administrator Sylvester Murray whether he felt “comfortable with insurance and liability.” Murray answered: “Yes, because I’m told there’s none.”

COUNCILWOMEN Leslie Morris, D-Second Ward, and Susan J. Greenberg, D-First Ward, questioned the city’s $5,000 allocation to the program, saying the money could be used for other activities. “It’s for implementation of someone’s dreams when the dreams of so many citizens don’t go realized because they don’t have the right friends, said Miss Morris, the lone dissenter in the 10-1 vote to approve the festival program.

Mayor Belcher called her remarks a “shallow view and condescending.” He said he has received many calls and letters from citizens after the festival plan was revealed a month ago. He likened the city-festival relationship to that with the Economic Development Corporation formed to stimulate the local job market. Assistant City Attorney John Van Loon said it could be similar to the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority, formed by the city council but operating on its own.

Belcher said the festival move is the outcome of a good working relationship between the city and the U-M, and if successful, the venture could enhance the town “culturally and financially.” He anticipated new jobs, perhaps in the thousands, additional tax base from new businesses and millions of dollars flowing into the local economy. “It’ll make us the cultural capital of the Midwest, it’s environmentally clean and will enhance the image of the city. It’s indeed a civic venture and seems to me in the best interest of the people.”

BUT THE MAYOR heeded at least one objection from the Democrats: the “sexist language" in the incorporation document. All throughout the articles of incorporation, an officer or director was referred to as “he” or “him,” and Belcher agreed to change the wording to indicate both genders.

The initial incorporators are listed as Power and his two Detroit attorneys, Paul R. Trigg Jr. and J. Theodore Everingham. The 12-member board, named by the city and the U-M, will take over the operation and set its own rules, the council was told.