Tuesday, June 8, 2010

21c Expansion: Hoping for the Best

If you live in Louisville and are on Twitter, you've no doubt already heard about 21c's announcement that they intend to expand into fifteen cities, starting with Bentonville, Arkansas-- home of the anti-21c, Wal-Mart.  

Most of the people I follow on Twitter have responded with shock at the first location and with cautious congratulations to one of the coolest (and that word is truly applicable) businesses in the city.  The 21c tweet machine has countered with good humor and optimism.  

I personally haven't seen much anger out there about the expansion, but others have mentioned it. And the 21c facebook page already features people questioning the Wal-Mart connection (there is none, instead it is with the Crystal Bridges Museum-- which I will have to look into).  

I've said any number of times that 21c is one of the things that makes me proudest to be a Louisvillager.  (If you read that post, the answer is no-- I never did treat myself to a night at 21c post-chemo-- what's wrong with me?).  I am cautiously optimistic. 

Best case scenario:  21c stays headquartered here and has to hire a whole bunch of creative locals to work in the HQ.  As they expand, they proudly wave the Louisville flag (I jokingly tweeted that all future 21c Hotels should be called "The Louisville 21c Hotel in Bentonville" or what have you).  All major exhibits/events must debut first in 21c's Mother City before moving on to shows at other 21c's.  Chef Paley stays at Proof.  All new hotel initiatives use the Louisville 21c as their incubator... You catch my drift, right?

Worst case scenario:  As 21c expands, the quality of exhibits/events becomes diluted by 1/15th.  The groundbreaking, superstar artists choose to debut their shows at 21c Chicago or Atlanta.  It suddenly makes sense to move the 21c HQ to a larger city. Our 21c becomes "the old model."  Much sadness ensues.

I'm going to cling to the Best Case Scenario as the Only Case Scenario.  I believe that the 21c is committed to our fair city.  I wish them the best, and look forward to our 21c becoming the "mothership."  

Update: WFPL's Elizabeth Kramer allays some of my bigger fears-- good news!  

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