The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Music and the arts should get their due from University of Wisconsin parking authorities — despite the popularity of football games. | September 23, 2012

By Jacob Stockinger

It is only the beginning of the new season and already last weekend was packed, even overloaded, with great classical music and fine performances, as I remarked last week.

There was a concert by the UW Pro Arte String Quartet; a concert by the Ancora String Quartet; two performances by the Oakwood Chamber Players; the start of Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Sunday Afternoon Live From the Chazen”; and an inaugural concert in a series to be given by gifted University of Wisconsin School of Music alumni.

Because of various commitments, I could only get to one: the concert by the Pro Arte Quartet (below) on Saturday night in Mills Hall. (But here is John W. Barker’s glowing review for Isthmus of the Ancora String Quartet’s Romantic program at the First Unitarian Society:

But what effort it took!

The UW Business School’s Grainger Hall (below), which is supposed to be the parking lot of choice for arts events – because it is close to both Mills and Morphy Halls in the Mosse Humanities Building — had been reserved in its ENTIRETY for football parking, a situation made worse by the late kickoff time of 7 p.m. I tried to park there and found it packed, just absolutely jammed.

So was the city lot between Lake and Frances Streets, where I finally and fortunately lucked out and found  one spot as someone left.

Now I realize football is popular. Go Badgers!

But many of us also like to attend other UW events.

Plus, I cannot believe that UW parking authorities can’t set aside enough parking (photo below is by Jeff Miller for UW News) to allow for good attendance at a comparatively small arts event.

But sadly, they didn’t.

And sadly there were far fewer people at the Pro Arte concert than should have been there — just look at all the empty seats, both downstairs and especially in the upper balcony and on the sides in the photos below  — for a fabulous concert of late Haydn, early Schubert and late Dvorak that deserved the prolonged and enthusiastic standing ovation it received.

Was all of the absence due to parking problems? Not at all, given competing musical concerts, both classical and non-classical, as well as other events.

But I did in fact hear many people complain about the parking problem, which also almost made me late. And I also heard some pretty complicated arrangements – early arrival, tag-team driving times and walking long distances — for how people managed to circumvent the terrible parking situation in order to attend the Pro Arte concert.

So The Ear has to ask: Can’t UW Parking do its fair share to promote and help the arts on campus? After all, parking is there to serve the university — NOT the other way around.

And there is only so much any one driver can do, despite some tips from Steve Brown Apartments (below).

What do other readers have to say? Leave your voice in the Comment section.

Maybe someone at UW Parking will get the message, pay attention and solve the problem.

Or maybe NOT.



  1. I no longer go anywhere near campus or State St on a football game day. I’ve grown tired of the traffic jams, aggressive or drunk drivers, the hunt for the elusive single parking spot left in the ramp, and special event charges in the ramps even if I’m only there for dinner. When I went to the Joan Baez concert at the Union Theater a couple of years ago on a football game day, the closest I could park was on the sixth level of the State/Capital ramp, the concert had to be started over a half hour late because of post-game fireworks on the Terrace, and then she was interrupted several times by obnoxiously loud noises coming from the Terrace. Now special event charges at ramps are in effect for almost all sports events, and the hockey season lasts for an eternity. (When do those kids ever study?) I feel ripped off and don’t appreciate having to subsidize the athletic department.

    Comment by Richard Séguin — September 24, 2012 @ 10:45 pm

    • Hi Richard,
      Thank you for reading and replying.
      I completely share your decision and attitude — except that I really don’t want to give up and let the sports department win!
      Nor do I want to miss something artistic, a concert or an art show or a play, that I was really looking forward to.
      But you are deeply right about how discouraging it is to swim against the current on footballs days.
      The Ear

      Comment by welltemperedear — September 25, 2012 @ 8:27 am

  2. This is just one example of the low priority that the arts seem to have at UW. We need an interest group to make our opinions known to the administration — that the arts programs deserve the respect and support that is shown to athletics. Barbara Furstenberg

    Comment by Barbara Furstenberg — September 24, 2012 @ 2:36 pm

    • Hi Barbara,
      Indeed, I think you are right, especially when you compare the arts to sports and ask: So which one is the tail that wags the dog?
      Thanks for reading and replying.
      The Ear

      Comment by welltemperedear — September 24, 2012 @ 3:32 pm

  3. I’ve passed this post on to a couple people here on campus — one of whom was surprised to hear that the parking restriction had not been lifted by the time of the concert, given the early game time. Some good suggestions mentioned here, though, such as checking up on the availability of arts-designated parking. I’ll poke around.

    Comment by Susannah Brooks — September 24, 2012 @ 9:20 am

    • Hi Susannah,
      Thank you for reading and replying.
      Any help and action would be much appreciated by me, by other listeners and by the performers.
      Let us know the results.

      Comment by welltemperedear — September 24, 2012 @ 9:53 am

  4. I hope you continue to make waves! When I realized the scheduling for the Pro Arte and the football game, I gave up all thought of attending the concert. It’s sad that so many events in Madison have the same effect on me. I don’t go because I know parking will be such a hassle. If it isn’t a football game, it’s hockey, or basketball, or a state tournament. The concerts definitely take a back seat.

    Comment by Susan Young — September 24, 2012 @ 8:41 am

    • Hi Susan
      Thank you for reading and writing.
      Believe me, you are not alone — and that is a shame.
      I will continue and TRY to sake waves. But UW Parking is big and powerful, I don’t know how much good it will do.
      But already there have been a lot of reader responses to the posting.
      That is a good sign, anyway.

      Comment by welltemperedear — September 24, 2012 @ 9:56 am

  5. There simply is not enough parking for all in the down-town or university areas. Athletic patrons are paying $15 or more for parking. (I suspect football commands the highest rate.) Arts patrons , i believe, are looking for more in the $5 range. UW parking knows where the money is to pay the high salaries of athletic personnel. That is why there is no parking for the arts. I agree there needs to be more balance, but how to you provide that. Even if there were spots near Mills, etc. sports spectators would be there to snatch them up, unless the UW goes to a pre-paid parking sticker for the arts, similar to the athletic program. It would mean buying up parking in advance at the same time football parking is sold, with advance dates set and coordinated with the athletic schedule.

    Comment by John Unertl — September 23, 2012 @ 5:47 pm

  6. Not long ago, certain campus parking ramps were designated as Arts Parking. I’m thinking of Helen C. White Hall on N. Park St., for example. Most of the time, this worked OK, especially when a parking attendant was present. Currently many events usually scheduled in the Wis. Union Theatre will be held in Union South. For arts events typically dependent upon “town,” as well as “gown,” it seems that some plan might be made on behalf of community members who want to support UW events by being in audiences for live performances.

    Comment by Ginny Moore Kruse — September 23, 2012 @ 1:56 pm

  7. …and that’s one reason why it’s wonderful to live within walking distance of UW, provided walking is not a hardship. And why we need good mass transit on weekends. (Last night, Saturday, the bus I took to Overture for MSO’s concert was packed.) That said, I had the same thoughts, Ear. Who on earth would program both the Pro Arte (and after their much feted anniversary) and a football game at the same time, there’s the rub. (Was the 7 pm start time determined late in the game?) I note this will be an issue with a faculty concert/home game on October 20, and the Pro Arte/home game on October 27. How about a shuttle service from a lot to be determined?

    Comment by Ronnie Hess — September 23, 2012 @ 10:01 am

    • Hi Roni,
      Great comments with great ideas for a solution, although cars will forever be a given.
      More cooperation and planning all around might help a lot.
      Thank you.

      Comment by welltemperedear — September 23, 2012 @ 11:02 am

  8. sounds like everywhere there’s great eventgs.

    Comment by len — September 23, 2012 @ 1:13 am

  9. As a 42+ -year employee of UW-Madison, now retired, I can tell you with certainty that UW Parking is the most efficient organization on the entire planet, dedicated to the proposition that tyrannical policies, confusion, inordinate expense, and annoying inconvenience are at all times to be maximized to the greatest extent, and — if possible — then some.

    Comment by Jess Anderson — September 23, 2012 @ 12:18 am

    • Hi Jess,
      Your comments confirm my experience — and the experience of many others, I suspect.
      Does the University run Parking?
      Or does Parking run the University?
      The UW should have the right priority.

      Comment by welltemperedear — September 23, 2012 @ 11:04 am

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