May 17, 2011; Source: Rapid City Journal | The simultaneous squeeze on municipal governments and nonprofits certainly is having its effects. In Rapid City, S.D., the Civic Center has increased the rates for its use by nonprofits by 60 percent this year, making it impossible for the Black Hills Symphony Orchestra to continue to use the space. This has forced the symphony into the local middle school.

A member of the Civic Center Board defends the increase by citing increased costs – it is currently subsidizing many events to the tune of $500 – $1000 – but as a result, this article states, there are a number of smaller arts groups that have also elected to stop using the Civic Center.

Pete Anderson of the Shrine of Democracy Chorus said, “They drove us out with their rates probably six years ago,” adding, “It’s a wonderful facility. We’d love to be able to do the show there each year, but it’s out of our price range.”

Judy Vidal of the A Cappella Showcase Choir says, “We were one of the last ones to go . . . The symphony is really the only one that continued . . . It’s a beautiful theater but we can’t afford it.”

Both of these groups also moved to the Dakota Middle School theater. Vidal accepts that as smaller performing arts group it may make sense for her group and groups like hers to be out of the Civic Center, but she thinks that there should be different rules for the symphony. “There’s no place big enough for the symphony except the (Civic Center) theater. The rest of us can scrape by and find other places,” she said. “I really believe that an exception should be made for the Black Hills Symphony. It is a jewel in our crown.”

For many cities, the establishment of a city performing arts center is seen as an important anchor to development. The mission of the Civic Center reads that it is expected to “provide and maintain a user friendly facility for entertainment, concerts, plays, conventions, sporting events and civic gatherings to enrich the lives of the people in the Black Hills area.”—Ruth McCambridge