Arts groups want more from city

Apr. 19, 2013 @ 05:12 PM

Local arts groups and other nonprofits looking for an infusion of city funding for their missions may have picked the wrong time to make their pitches.
Ten outside agencies have presented the city with funding requests totalling $598,063 for the budget year that begins July 1. The requests represent an increase of $256,500, or 75 percent, over current funding of $341,563.
City Manager Strib Boynton said his proposed budget will recommend against any increase in outside agency funding unless advised otherwise by the City Council. The council has asked Boynton to recommend a budget with no property tax rate increase.
“The budget is still evolving as a work in progress, and to meet your expectations, available new dollars will be very limited,” he wrote in a recent memo to council members.
Some of the requested increase stems from the High Point Area Arts Council, which has requested $317,063 from the city. Executive Director Debbie Lumpkins said the group is asking for no increase in its current allocation other than a one-time, $200,000 capital campaign grant to match a donation it received from Guilford County.
The Arts Council bought the Centennial Station property on S. Centennial Street for $860,000 last year to serve as its headquarters. So far, it has paid back more than $250,000 in loans taken out to buy the facility. The organization hopes to raise $1.6 million to cover the remaining loan balance, purchase equipment, make building repairs and establish a fund for future building maintenance.
“The arts are so important to our economic viability, for the diversity within our community, and it is so important to finally have a place that we can call home for the arts,” said Janette McNeill, chairwoman of the Arts Council’s board of directors.
Friends of John Coltrane, which will put on the third annual John Coltrane International Jazz & Blues Festival at Festival Park at Oak Hollow Lake on Labor Day weekend, has requested $50,000 from the city. Friends of John Coltrane Treasurer Patrick Harman said the festival drew about 2,000 people in 2011 and about 2,500 last year. He said organizers have diversified the lineup of performers this year and hope that the event will continue to grow.
“It takes about five years to establish a festival,” Harman said.
His foundation, the Hayden-Harman Foundation, gave the festival $80,000 for its inaugural event. It also received $32,000 from the city in 2011. In 2012, the festival requested $50,000 from the city, and the council directed the High Point Convention & Visitors Bureau to allocate the funding. The CVB receives the majority of its money from its portion of Guilford County’s hotel and motel room tax.
The Southwest Renewal Foundation is also requesting an increase in funding from the city, from $6,000 to $28,000. Foundation co-chair Dorothy Darr said the nonprofit, which is working to revitalize the traditional heart of the city’s former furniture and textile mill base, would use the funding to bring in goats to clear about 30 acres of kudzu along Richland Creek.
The group wants to develop a greenway along the creek, but first wants to remove the invasive plant.
“With not much money, we can do a lot of good. The kudzu is a symbol of neglect,” said Darr. “It prevents us from seeing and cleaning up the creek.”
Other groups asking for 2013-14 funding are Piedmont Triad Ambulance & Rescue ($5,000); the National Guard ($5,000); Guilford County Historic Preservation Commission ($2,000); Theatre Art Gallery ($31,000); the N.C. Shakespeare Festival ($50,000 in rental credits for the High Point Theatre); the Piedmont Triad Partnership ($10,000) and the Community Resource Network ($100,000).