Week in review: New beginnings in local arts
We know that you listen to us on air and check our website for news and information about our region. We hope that you look at our website every day, but we know that's not always possible. So, once a week, on Friday, we will highlight some of the website's top stories of the week.
When Scott Miller founded New Line Theatre in 1991 it was a risky proposition, in more ways than one. The nonprofit would occupy a tight niche: musicals only. It would also ride the first wave of a national trend, producing work about topics such as politics, violence, race, sexuality and religion. The theatre has struggled with having its own space -- but now philanthropists Ken and Nancy Kranzberg are building, to New Line’s specifications, a 150-seat black box theater named Marcelle, to open this fall.
The Luminary Center for the Arts casts a wide net with the current show Counterpublic. It addresses issues of gentrification on Cherokee Street and in the surrounding neighborhood. Images, video, sound and signs tackle issues of wealth disparity, change, immigration, and race as inextricably interwoven with gentrification. The show also brings art out of the gallery space and into local business. St. Louis Public Radio recently spoke with artists, business owners, and residents about the show.
Lisa LaRose and her husband, Mike Schrand, operations and program manager for St. Louis Public Radio, have embarked on a mission to restore what is known in the Lafayette Square as the old stone house. They have a contract on the structure and hope to turn it into a museum about the early immigrants to the area. LaRose will provide periodic updates.
Buddy, can you spare a dime?
Panhandlers are a common sight in St. Louis. Deciding the best way to respond has been an ongoing challenge for the city as it attempts to balance needs and perceptions with freedom of speech and public safety. Now the city could be changing its panhandling policy once more. Human services director Eddie Roth is taking a look at the policy after hearing from people who say panhandling is on the rise.
Democracy at work
The big question may be why. Why — after months of being in the red-hot glare of the national and international media in the aftermath of the police shooting of Michael Brown — would eight people decide to run for seats on the beleaguered Ferguson City Council, all for a part-time job that pays $250 a month?
Missouri lawmakers are heading home as their annual spring break has arrived, but they took time before leaving to tout their mid-term accomplishments. The House got an early start on the state budget this year, passing it three weeks earlier than usual. The Senate passed the first Ferguson-related bill of the 2015 regular session, but got stuck on what their leaders called their highest priority: fixing the student transfer law. Four bills have been passed by both chambers and sent to Gov. Jay Nixon.
Legislation is advancing through the Missouri General Assembly to make it easier to dissolve St. Louis County’s municipalities. State Rep. Bob Burns’ bill would reduce the number of signatures needed to dissolve a St. Louis County city or town. Currently, groups need to gather the signatures of 50 percent of registered voters in a municipality; Burns’ bill would reduce that threshold to 25 percent. The bill would also lower the percentage of votes needed to disincorporate a city from 60 percent to 50 percent.
Retired U.S. Sen. John C. Danforth says he’s not giving up in his quest to force the ouster of Missouri GOP chairman, John Hancock, whom Danforth blames for an alleged anti-Semitic “whispering campaign’’ that Danforth believes prompted state Auditor Tom Schweich to kill himself. Hancock has denied making any anti-Semitic comments, or waging any sort of whispering campaign against Schweich.