Broken Galss

Philip Glass at a Brazil Ranch building, in Big Sur’s Los Padres National Forest, which at one time was owned by Allen Funt of Candid Camera, but is now owned by American taxpayers.

It seemed a marriage made in heaven – or at least Big Sur.

The purpose of the proposed Philip Glass Center for the Arts, Science and the Environment was to “gather the world’s leaders in the fields of art, science and the environment for… performances, seminars and education programs.”

The building, the focal point of that, was to be built on 35 acres of the sweeping, 1,600-acre Brazil Ranch in Big Sur, run by the U.S. Forest Service.

The Forest Service’s own goals and vision for the land included strengthening local cultures and communities; promoting conservation through the arts and humanities; and establishing a progressive policy and academic institute.

Philip Glass and company were notified of the opportunity by architect Rob Carver, and submitted an application – the only entity to do so, they say – in February 2011. They set up fundraising structures, lobbied officials and promoted the center at their annual Days and Nights Festival. And they waited. They waited through the recession, sequestration, the 2013 Pfeiffer Fire, drought and Forest Service staff changes. Last January, the application was finally answered: denied.

In a letter to Glass, the Forest Service claims a backlog of “over 400 expired special use permits and projects” that address safety, power and water, road right of ways, camps, communications – more timely matters.

The decision isn’t expected to affect the Days and Nights Festival, still on for this September. And the Forest Service is considering either destroying the ranch’s existing structures and walking away, or a land conveyance – letting someone else, someone with aligned values, buy it.

Know anyone like that?

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Walter Ryce has been an arts writer, calendar editor, culture columnist, sometime photographer, and one-time web content coordinator for the Monterey County Weekly. He began working at the paper, which is based in his hometown of Seaside, in 2007.

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