Saturday, December 31, 2005

Decorators' Showcase Impasse

I get so tired of Democrats in Indiana slagging Gov. Daniels every time he takes a decisive stand instead of letting himself get run over. The latest kerfuffle (written up over at Liberal Indiana and reported in the Star on Thursday) has been around the use of the Governor's mansion for the 2006 Decorators' Show House, an annual fundraiser for Wishard sponsored by St. Margaret's Hospital Guild. At issue is the governor's (and Residence Commission's) requirement for use of the mansion: that the decorators respect the tradition of the historic home and their designs reflect it. Considering that every paint swatch and piece of art of the last renovation (during O'Bannon's term) was overseen by the Commission and state archaeologists from the DNR (yes, we have a few), I was surprised at the venue choice initially for these very reasons. This week, organizers announced they couldn't work with the approvals needed, that was getting too "complicated", and cancelled the event scheduled for April 21-May 14, 2006.

For those not familiar with the event, the committee chooses a large home, usually on Meridian St. or nearby and asks the owners to move out and give the decorators full control. The decorators create dream rooms and thousands of people shuffle through making "gee whiz" comments engaging in this weird form of Indiana voyeurism, the home tour. Sometimes the creations are wonderful and but in the past few years, they've been increasingly over the top. Some are just plain weird. So, when the Guild asked to use the Governor's mansion as their next target, Daniels agreed but with the caveat. Apparently the event was cancelled when the Residence Commission didn't go for many of the "unique" designs. The commission asked that it be "about the house" not the designers' individuality. The committee felt there wasn't enough time to ask designers to rework designs and pulled the plug.

If it's true that the decorators weren't willing to work under what those horribly restrictive conditions, then the event committee and fundraiser participants have lost sight of the event's true mission. I'd also wonder why they weren't realistic about these issues earlier? Anyone who's been to the event in recent years could have seen this coming. So why didn't the committee have a backup? Why didn't they foresee potential problems in using a public space and plan ahead for design approvals? Oh, wait. You mean, this is a fundraiser that decorators use to compete with each other on and use as a business showcase?!

This is no Daniels debacle. It's one created by the committee and local decorators. St. Margaret's Hospital Guild has no one to blame but themselves for not being out in front of this. Do I sound like I'm being harsh? Yes, I do, but I have run large fundraising events with hundreds of thousands of dollars at stake (including most recently two years co-chairing a $200,000 annual charity auction gala in Indianapolis), and I'm truly surprised that they weren't realistic about the use of this space. What decorator in town doesn't have to work around client demands or simple client boundaries? *That* is the challenge of being a great decorator. In a world of 48-hour home makeovers, it's hard to believe that these local decorators weren't willing to re-do and re-submit less radical designs to the Residence Commission.

Sadly, organizers have cancelled the event instead of asking decorators to rally for true charity instead of their own personal gain. But, of course, it's easier to cancel. Maybe the Guild should mount a fundraising campaign with the State Dem Party laying the blame at the feet of the Governor and use that money to fill the $250,000 budgetary void for Wishard this year.


At Sun Jan 01, 11:49:00 AM, Blogger Jim said...

Didn't vote for Mitch, but I agree 100% that he doesn't bear any responsibility for this stupidity.

Baboon wallpaper? What the hell were they thinking? This is the frickin' Governor's mansion, not Liberace's house.

At Sun Jan 01, 09:31:00 PM, Blogger Marie said...

I'm not fond of Mitch one bit but I agree this is a non issue. The fault lies with the designers for not maintaining the historical integrity of the governor's mansion. I don't have a problem with unique rooms but they should reflect the best of that home's character and not the worst.

At Mon Jan 02, 12:18:00 AM, Blogger Brian D. said...

I'll agree 100% with your post and disagree 100% with Liberal Indiana's discussion of the topic.

This is the people's house we are talkiing about. The designers can easily take into account the fact this is supposed to be a functional, livable home in a historic neighborhood. I guess they're too lazy.

At Mon Jan 02, 09:50:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you see some of the rooms in the decorator showhouse last year? HIDEOUS!


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