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Trouble at Music Man Square in Meredith Willson's hometown

October 17, 2016 - 5:54 PM

MASON CITY, Iowa - The Music Man Square in the hometown of "The Music Man" creator Meredith Willson is floundering.

The Mason City Foundation Board runs the attraction, which is housed in a large building that includes a 1912 streetscape, meeting rooms, a museum and recording studios. But board members said it's losing about $60,000 a year.

The square opened in 2002, envisioned as a mecca for young musicians and visitors who could bask in the shadow of Willson, who died in 1984, according to the Mason City Globe Gazette (http://bit.ly/2dIgkBe ).

Board member John Barron said he thinks staff reorganization and program restructuring will help solve the square's problems. However, board member Barb Hovland said she thinks the $10 million building and cost of the attraction's upkeep doesn't match the public's interest.

"We're still getting bookings. We're still getting tour buses. We're still getting grants," Barron said. "But it isn't enough."

Due to the financial losses, the board has had to downsize. The only remaining paid employees are four part-time workers.

Longtime board president Scott Shipman said the square should be more event-oriented and focused on bringing in sponsorships as well as fundraisers. The square has hosted several weddings and receptions this year, as well as political rallies, parties and other receptions.

Shipman noted that the attraction has operated on financial edge since it opened, adding: "We'll pull through."

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Information from: Globe Gazette, http://www.globegazette.com/

News from © The Associated Press, 2016
The Associated Press

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