Michael Feinstein taking post with Carmel arts hall


Chris Proffitt/Eyewitness News

Hamilton County - It's a half-million dollar salary - and maybe more going to a Grammy-nominated vocalist who becomes the new artistic director of the upcoming Carmel Performing Arts Center. There are serious concerns over where the money is coming from to pay pianist Michael Feinstein and whether taxpayer money is being used.

Pianist and singer Michael Feinstein will be the new artistic director for the yet unfinished $147 million Carmel Performing Arts Center. Feinstein said this week that he'll be paid at least $500,000 a year in his new position. But there are concerns over how the performer's salary will be funded along with its new executive director's $200,000-a-year paycheck.

Eric Seidensticker is the Carmel City Council president.

"We don't know simply because that has not yet been disclosed," he said.

Mayor Jim Brainard was taken to task this summer over $600,000 in taxpayer seed money funneled to the Performing Arts Foundation through the city's redevelopment commission.

"The city could have taken the option of just running this as a city facility, but we got a step further and said no, we want to raise private funding to take that burden off the taxpayers," the mayor said.

But even concerned city council members don't know how much money has been raised to fund the not-for-profit center.

The mayor and the center's executive director weren't available for comment but there are serious questions about who's paying Feinstein's salary: the not-for-profit or taxpayers.

"I think it's very unclear to the residents of Carmel what's going on here. Whether these individuals are working for the city or the Performing Arts Foundation and where the money is coming to pay these individuals," said John Accetturo, Carmel City Council member.

Because the mayor hasn't disclosed that or Feinstein's exact salary, several city council members say if they don't know, they ask how taxpayers can find out how their money's being spent.

The center will have a concert hall and two theaters and is scheduled to open next fall.

Feinstein already has announced plans to move the headquarters of his Feinstein Foundation for the Education and Preservation of The Great American Songbook to Carmel. He also is to perform Friday with the Carmel Symphony Orchestra.

Feinstein performs Friday with the Carmel Symphony. It's unclear how much time he'll devote to the Performing Arts Center, and no one has confirmed his salary.

Related stories:

Official: Feinstein to be Carmel artistic director

Carmel mayor resigns from Performing Arts Foundation board

Carmel mayor names exec. director for arts center; fends off criticism

Carmel Performing Arts Center plans unveiled