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COLUMN

Happytown

Sad-song saga of the gold-plated Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

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But that's exactly what they'll be doing, and the news has galvanized the arts community in a public fashion on Facebook, with many writing treatises of dismay at the decision. Doesn't sound like good news for fundraising, does it? Well, naturally, Ramsberger is chewing back. In a Dec. 20 internal email obtained by Happytown™ – one that begins, beguilingly, with the greeting "Dear Circle Friends" – Ramsberger makes the case that DPAC has nothing to worry about and is planning "an excellent 2014/2015 opening season" with the help of former Straz Center for the Arts vice president of programming Judy Joseph, who will be coming here from Tampa Bay. Of course, anybody who's anyone in Broadway circles knows that Joseph's success at Straz probably had more to do with Straz Center president Judith Lisi – a grand dame in the industry who herself cautiously told us in 2010 that opening a new center was "very, very difficult." Also, Lisi said, it involved engaging the community in a meaningful manner. So far, DPAC has only confused the local arts groups – or virtually shut them down – which isn't exactly engaging.

Still, writes Ramsberger, now is not the time for tears. "Finally, your role as a Circle member is to help with friend-raising and fundraising; therefore, I'd like to ask you to invite prospects and potential business partners to tour the site." There will be a DPAC "team" there to help shake their pockets, so no worries ­– or all worries? We're building a mystery.

In much lighter performance news, we were invited to emcee the Central Florida Jobs With Justice Third Annual Power to the People celebration on Dec. 20, and we were awesome. Actually, it wasn't us, but the general greatness of the activists and advocates crowding the Venue that made the evening shine. The event is loosely an art show – a silent auction for pieces created in the spirit of activism was held in the lobby, with proceeds benefiting the cause – but mostly it's a chance to recognize people who have fought the good fight for the working class over the last year. A couple of women who walked out on their jobs at Walmart (one did so with Congressman Alan Grayson, even!) told their stories, and a student who fought for the DREAM Act through personal revelation was lauded by her university professor beautifully.

But let's not kid ourselves: The real highlight of the night was the "Scrooge of the Year" award presentation, a funny bit of crowdsourcing that encouraged people to buy votes for their least favorite public figure, because, you know, Citizens United. Anyway, the night's big winner was crazy-texter Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, thanks to the efforts of Citizens for a Greater Orange County and Organize Now taking on the mayor litigiously for apparent (if virtual) violations of public records law. Those behind the earned sick time campaign and its subsequent legal battle were presented with a golden bullhorn, which almost immediately broke in half. Guess it's time to get a cellphone!

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