CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Ohio lawmakers already have given $12.6 million to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, and they are being asked to pony up another $2 milion to keep the cultural institute going on the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati. It opened in August 2004 -- the total cost about $110 milion in local, state, federal and private money.
On its face, there is nothing wrong with investing public money in cultural projects and museums. But lawmakers need to be sure they know what they are getting. Sometimes things just don't turn out as promoted.
For example, what is up with the American Music Classical Hall of Fame and Museum? It opened in downtown Cincinnati and got an infusion of public money from the Ohio General Assembly as a place to recognize those ''who have made outstanding artistic contributions to classical music in the United States." While Cleveland rocked with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cincinnati was supposed to waltz.
Today, here's what the Ohio Cultural Commission (a government agency that handles grants, including the Freedom Center's money) says on its official Website about the current condition of the American Classical Music Hall of Fame: It is packing things up and moving.
''Some of the Hall of Fame's exhibits have been relocated to Cincinnati's Memorial Hall for display,'' the Cultural Commission reports. ''The Commission's grant agreement with the Hall of Fame calls for the exhibits to be relocated using non-state funds, and to be displayed for a period of at least 5 years beginning no later than June 30, 2007. Approximately $200,000 remains from 2 General Revenue Fund grants totaling $600,000 for improvements at the museum's former location. A project scope for the remaining funds is to be determined. State funds were previously used to update exhibits, renovate space at its prior location, and to purchase a new performance piano."
UPDATE: This is what the Cultural Commission Website reports about Ohio's financial involvement with the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center: "The state has contributed $12.6 mllion for the construction of the facility through five capital appropriations, including a reimbursement of $4.15 million in fiscal years 2006."