Arts moved to shorter list
Commissioners put arts agencies on a shorter donation list this week.
Commissioners agreed during a Guilford County retreat that arts groups should be considered for funding along with economic development groups instead of with community-based organizations. The county funds nine economic development agencies. Each year, scores of community groups seek county funding.
Arts groups have complained for years that because arts stimulate the economy, arts agencies should be grouped with economic development agencies. The change does not mean arts groups will get larger donations. It does change request processing, however.
“It means the groups will know where to send their proposals,” said Democratic Commissioner Carolyn Coleman.
“The arts get chopped up in the process,” said Democratic Commissioner Bruce Davis of High Point. “We could see better this way where the money comes from for the arts.”
The board approved the change on a 7-2 vote with Republican Commissioners Hank Henning and Jeff Phillips voting against the change.
The county funds economic development agencies, ranging from Downtown High Point and the High Point Economic Development Partnership to the High Point Market Authority.
Arts agencies, including the N.C. Shakespeare Festival and the High Point Area Arts Council, have been grouped with community-based health and social service groups, ranging from YMCA, Carl Chavis Branch to NIA Community Action Center. Arts supporters have emphasized for years how arts activities drive cultural tourism and provide critical services.
“The arts are part of the solution for stimulating the economy,” Debbie Lumpkins, High Point Arts Council director, has said several times.
Commissioners don’t always stand by their funding process, however. Last November, commissioners gave the High Point Arts Council an additional $200,000 for a new home at Centennial Station at 121 S. Centennial St. after High Point attorney Jim Morgan, Arts Council chairman, asked for the money for a project he said would be “an economic engine for the county.”
Typical Annual Economic Development Donations: Downtown High Point, $40,000; High Point Economic Development Partnership, $75,000 and High Point Market Authority, $75,000.
Typical Annual Community Group Donations: High Point Area Arts Council, $50,000; Friends of John Coltrane, $25,000; N.C. Shakespeare Festival, $30,000; Communities in Schools, High Point, $100,000.