The announcement represents a deeper commitment to the vital role the Acadiana Center for the Arts plays in Lafayette's cultural and economic life.
|This artist's rendering shows the Acadiana Center for the Arts'
$10 million theater expansion facing Vermilion Street.
Acadiana Center for the Arts Executive Director Gerd Wuestemann and City-Parish President Joey Durel on Thursday unveiled a funding model for the AcA that will increase Lafayette Consolidated Government’s commitment to the center while pulling the earmark from the general fund, shifting the funding source instead to cable television franchise fees. The announcement included a tour of the AcA’s $10 million theater expansion scheduled to open this fall.
“I’ll admit that when I came into office, I didn’t get it,” Durel told the gathering of civic and political leaders and media, referring to his early, unsuccessful attempts to cut external agencies — arts/culture providers as well as social service non-profits — from the budget. While some fiscally conservative members of the council have traditionally opposed funding such non-governmental agencies, there has always been enough support on the council to ensure a funding stream, although it was done in what Wuestemann rightfully characterized as a “cut and paste” approach with little apparent analysis of a particular NGO’s needs or value to the community.
Under the new funding model proposed — the City-Parish Council must still approve the funding during budget hearings in August and September — the AcA will receive $515,000 from LCG. Of that sum, $160,000 is earmarked for distribution by the AcA staff to other arts and culture providers in Lafayette Parish in the form of grants; at least $70,000 will go to Festival International de Louisiane; and the remaining $285,000 will underwrite the AcA’s operating expenses, which, projected over the current fiscal year, includes $190,000 for its LUS bill (electricity, fiber and phone service), $32,000 for building insurance and $31,000 for facility maintenance and repairs.
State-of-the-art arts centers are expensive to run and maintain. The AcA is a city-owned and -operated facility.
Durel pointed out that LCG budgets roughly $4 million annually for parks and recreation, and there is virtually no complaining from the community — green space and organized sports are widely considered beneficial, quality-of-life services. “This,” he added, gesturing to the arts center surrounding him, “is parks and rec for another group of people.”
“I believe that Lafayette has a responsibility to Acadiana,” Durel said later. “The smaller cities could never afford this.”
LCG announced a related funding shift last spring when it revealed that city-parish funding of social service agencies and arts/culture providers would be split, with social service funding being done on a competitive application process through the Community Development Department and arts/culture funding handled by the AcA. The AcA began a quarter century ago as the Acadiana Arts Council, and its primary function was to disperse state and local arts funding to arts and culture providers. But because under the new model announced in early June it would be awarding that LCG funding, it would be ineligible to draw from that revenue source; the AcA could not, in effect, be in charge of the purse from which it drew its funding. Thursday’s announcement represents a new, separate line item for funding the AcA and Festival International.
In recent city-parish budgets, roughly $450,000 has been allocated for funding NGOs including the AcA, Festival International and social service agencies. In the current 2009-2010 budget the AcA got just more than $69,000, more than half of which was dispersed to area arts providers in the form of grants; only $34,000 was allocated for the facility’s operating expenses. Durel said at the spring announcement that he wanted LCG’s commitment to NGO funding to remain on the same level, so Thursday’s announcement illustrates a much deeper commitment by LCG to the AcA — provided the council goes along with the funding formula. The arts center in October will celebrate the opening of a $10 million theater expansion. Durel has supported LCG funding of arts and culture providers for several years after it became evident that Lafayette’s cultural events, especially its music festivals, bring in tourists, sales taxes and hotel occupancy taxes.
The new funding formulas announced in the spring and on Thursday must still be approved by the council. However, Thursday’s Power Point presentation and tour helped convince District 8 Councilman Keith Patin that the investment is worth it. Patin joined Councilmen William Theriot (District 9) and Jared Bellard (District 5) in voting against NGO funding last September when the current budget was finalized.
“In the total scheme of things — a $560 million [LCG budget] — for all the possibilities that arise out of the $500,000 [funding commitment to the AcA], I think it’s well worth the investment,” Patin said following the presentation. Patin was among five councilmen at Thursday’s presentation and tour; Don Bertrand (District 7), Sam Dore (District 6), Brandon Shelvin (District 3) and Theriot were also there.
Contacted via e-mail after Thursday’s presentation, Theriot was circumspect: “The facility was very nice! I prefer not to respond to your other questions until we receive the new budget from the administration.”
The Lafayette City-Parish Council will consider on Tuesday a revised plan to the transform a block in Downtown Lafayette into a mixed-use residential-retail-commercial development that doesn’t include giving title to the property to the Lafayette Public Trust Finance Authority, an arrangement the council rejected earlier this month.
Trying to combat the national undertones of Louisiana's U.S. Senate race, Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu is traveling the state this week on a sort of pork celebration tour, telling voters about the projects and aid she's delivered to Louisiana.
Ever thought that big, pink Gulf coast shrimp you ordered at the restaurant or bought from the store didn't taste juicy or salty enough? Maybe it wasn't from the Gulf.
The state treasurer won't sign financial documents needed for $200 million in borrowing or for a refinancing of existing debt until he believes they accurately explain the surplus disagreement.
Bill Cassidy voted for 97 percent of the bills signed by Barack Obama.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is joining South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley on her campaign bus tour.
A New Iberia man has been sentenced to life in prison for killing a 4-year-old girl and scalding her 3-year-old brother.
A district judge decided Wednesday against sanctioning attorney/school board candidate Dawn Morris for her behind-the-scenes role in a lawsuit against Mark Cockerham.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler says Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration may have improperly destroyed records in the state employee health insurance program, in the middle of a heavily-criticized rewrite of benefit plans.
San Fran wins the World Series; Sistine Chapel improvements; Kurds moving toward Syria and more national and international news for Thursday, October 30, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
Paper cites the former ADA's "experience as a prosecutor, his demonstrated integrity, and his ideas for reshaping the [DA's] office" in urging voters to support Keith Stutes Nov. 4.
Louisiana officials have sent a letter to the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene un-inviting members of the group who have recently been to ebola-affected West African countries from attending the group’s annual conference in New Orleans next week.
Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints have to find a way to win on the road if they plan to take over first place in the NFC South.
"It is obvious that Louisiana economic performance has not outperformed the South or the United States as a whole and, in fact, has substantially underperformed..."
A state district judge said he will rule Friday on a preliminary injunction to keep some charter schools from receiving $60 million through Louisiana's public school financing formula.
Saints fans were to gather, make merry, eat/drink compliments of a new Downtown group and watch the Saints beat Carolina and claim 1st place in the NFC South. But...
New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram doesn't see his dramatic spike in production as any sort of validation.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is facing off one last time with her two main Republican challengers before next week's election.
He’s pulling for Knezek and Hidalgo on his end of the parish but issued endorsements in three other districts as well.
Off a narrow gravel road running between a handful of mostly abandoned lots near a Mississippi River levee, down past sprawling oak trees and thick weeds, a lectern framed by banana trees has been set up in front of three short rows of folding chairs.
Hillary Rodham Clinton is heading to New Orleans this weekend to stir up voter support for Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.
Saints coach Sean Payton has spent much of his team's erratic season trying to build his players up.
The Daily Advertiser has weighed in on this year's LPSB elections with nine endorsements.