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Proposal for Use of Arts and Culture Organizational Professional Development Funds Prompts Discussion of 2016 Grants

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Proposal for Use of Arts and Culture Organizational Professional Development Funds Prompts Discussion of 2016 Grants

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Legislature, without dissent (Legislators Carol Chock and Martha Robertson were excused) agreed to grant $2,000 in County Tourism Program funds to the Community Arts Partnership, to help support a professional development workshop focused on capacity building to market arts assets in Tompkins County. What prompted considerable discussion prior to the vote was an amendment advanced by Legislator Dan Klein to restore to five arts organizations $26,500 in program grants, funded through Room Occupancy Tax revenue, which had been reduced in 2016 as part of the Arts and Culture Organizational Development Grants program administered by the Strategic Tourism Planning Board.

Mr. Klein maintained restoration was justified since Room Tax revenues and reserves since have increased in excess of the amount involved. Discussion ensued that covered, in part, the issue of Tourism Program reserves and what Commissioner of Planning and Sustainability Ed Marx described as the “extremely thoughtful process” employed by the STPB to determine and support funding levels for the range of County tourism programs. After discussion, the proposed amendment failed to win support by a 5-7 margin, Legislators Klein, Will Burbank, Anna Kelles, Peter Stein, and Dooley Kiefer voting in favor. (Legislators Carol Chock and Martha Robertson were excused.) Budget committee chair Jim Dennis, to whose committee the Tourism Program reports, said it is his understanding that the 2018 program allocation is to return to the 2015 level.