Mayor Warren seeks apology from Geva over "naïve" comment

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said Wednesday she is due an apology from Geva's artistic director because "men calling women naive is wrong."

Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) - Rochester's mayor wants an apology from the artistic director of Geva Theater and said she won't address his concerns about a new performing arts center until she gets one.

"I think to use language that's demeaning is wrong...and I'm not going to address any of his comments because of it," Warren told 13 WHAM's Jane Flasch.

Mayor Warren is offended about a remark made Monday involving the word "naïve."

"I think the artistic director actually owes me an apology," Warren said. "Men calling women naïve this day and age is wrong."

Geva says she is taking it out of context. Earlier this month, artistic director Mark Cuddy sent a 14-page letter to City Council questioning, among other things, the sudden April announcement to locate a performing arts center with an $85 million theater on the valuable former Midtown site known as Parcel 5. In the letter, Cuddy said more study is needed.

In a press conference Monday, he took issue with something the mayor said.

"She is quoted as saying Syracuse is a college town, Buffalo has sports teams. We are a city of the arts and we have to have a venue that gives us that title," Cuddy said.

"We find that thinking to be naive at best," Cuddy went on to say.

Cuddy did elaborate to say Rochester is already rich with theater, symphony, arts and culture. A new theater, he said, might add to that but not define it. The idea, not the mayor, is shortsighted.

"Mark Cuddy...did not call the Mayor "naïve". We are sorry the mayor took it that way," Geva said in an emailed statement.

Mayor Warren sees it differently. "We can agree to disagree on an approach but I think to use that language is wrong," she said. "He owes the women in this community and the young girls an apology."

The war of words overshadows real questions about whether arts groups will support the PAC and whether the New York State will help pay for it.

Billionaire Tom Golisano has pledged $25 million for the theater which will anchor a 13 story residential and retail center. The total cost of the project is $130 million. Mayor Warren has sent a letter to Governor Cuomo seeking $20 million.

Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle has called the request "irresponsible." Mayor Warren said she has since provided him with a detailed study on the project and its feasibility.

"We worked with the Lincoln Center in New York City and with Cleveland that re-did their (theater); that was information he did not have," Warren said. "I'm thankful that he's willing to listen."

Here is the full statement issued by Geva:

Mark Cuddy, in his remarks on Monday afternoon that are published in written form, did not call the Mayor “naïve”. We are sorry that the Mayor took it that way. We stand by our statement that we find building a 3,000-seat theater on Parcel 5 to be the thing that makes us the City of the Arts to be flawed. We are happy to join the City’s administration in a new discussion about how best to support our thriving arts & cultural community.

Page two of the original statement by Geva contains the full paragraph with the "naïve" statement.

"Our memo has less to do with the role RBTL plays in our community and much more to do with the Mayor choosing this project for Parcel 5 in an effort to brand Rochester as the City of the Arts. She is quoted as stating 'Syracuse is a college sports town, Buffalo has pro teams: we are the City of the Arts and we have to have a venue that gives us that title.' We find that thinking to be naïve at best."

You can read the entire transcript on Geva's website.

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