March 30, 2006


The old Carnegie Library in downtown DC is about to become the home of a new music oriented cultural institution, called "the Gig." According to a press release, the Gig "will feature performances, classes and exhibits."

In addition to the Smithsonian, partners include the Yamaha Corporation, which will outfit the entire building with instruments and recording equipment, and the Los Angeles-based InTune Foundation, which will broadcast educational music programs from the facility. The Washington Historical Society will share the space with "the Gig," now that its city museum failed.

It's hard not to be skeptical of this whole enterprise. Will anyone be able to say: "meet me at the Gig," with a straight face? That aside, the center will be a museum, performance space, teaching facility, music studio and tv studio. This is the throw-it-at-wall brand of corporate philanthropy: get a bag full on money, throw it at the wall and whatever sticks, you point to and say see "we succeeded." Or not. Plus it sounds like there are too many chiefs at this pow-wow.

Announcing the deal, Mayor Williams said "the city receives a lively venue in the heart of downtown and a new lease on life for a magnificent historic building." Fair enough. But the Gig can only be a driver if it succeeds by fulfilling its mission and everything, including the kitchen sink, missions usually fail.

A healthy downtown depends on healthy institutions, not on corporate dreams gone astray. Does Yamaha or an LA foundation have anything to lose if this scheme fails? We are the ones that would have to endure a lonely, dirty plaza if the Gig gags. Anyone wanna bet we will be back to square one in three years?

MORTGAGE RATES EDGED upward again after the Fed raises rate. Freddie Mac economist Frank Nothaft said "the Fed raised rates this week, as was expected, but the market was a little surprised at the CommitteeƂ’s comments, which implied more tightening in the future ... and that kind of thinking promotes upward pressure on mortgage rates like we saw across the board this week."

pix by otavio_dc

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