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.”
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Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, March 07, 2014:
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.
The NFL has formally designated New Orleans' Jimmy Graham as a tight end for the purposes of his franchise tag value, which is now set at $7.05 million next season unless Graham and the Saints subsequently agree on a long-term deal.
A federal appeals panel ruled Monday that businesses don't have to prove that they were directly harmed by BP's 2010 Gulf Of Mexico oil spill to collect settlement payments.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has closed Interstate 10 from I-49 in Lafayette to Seigen Lane in Baton Rouge.
Jim Bernhard, who engineered the sale of The Shaw Group for $3 billion, recently has told several people involved in Democratic politics that he intends to run for governor in 2015.
A New Orleans levee board wants to hold the oil and gas industry accountable for decades of damage to our state’s coastline, but the Legislature may be poised to put the kibosh on the suit.
New standards curb elective induction
CVS stops tobacco sales
If an Acadia Parish fiddler misses a note while swatting a fly, will a St. Martinville accordionist learn “Ma ‘Tite Fille”?
(It's good, it's bad and it's just crazy)