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.”
American companies export smog; UN calls for cease-fire in Gaza; fist bump keeps germ transfer down and more national and international news for Monday, July 28, 2014.
Monday's Blogs from the Bog!
Louisiana has joined nine other states in support of Indiana’s appeal of a federal judge’s ruling that the Hoosier State’s ban on sam-sex marriage violates the Constitution.
The Saints are being cautious in an effort to minimize risk of re-injury.
LSU Health Sciences Center says people with a common, hard-to-treat kind of lung cancer can join a new national trial to test drugs faster.
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The family of fallen cyclist Lon Lomas is speaking out after the release this week of the man charged with his death.
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A federal judge has decided he doesn't need to hear more arguments in the case of a gay couple who want a Louisiana marriage license.
Saints again bring playoff aspirations into 2014 campaign.
New details in the case against the man arrested for last week’s bomb threat and bank robbery has surfaced, including a MidSouth Bank surveillance video showing the alleged suspect attempt an early-morning bank robbery.
Parents and teachers who support the Common Core education standards sued Gov. Bobby Jindal Tuesday over his actions against the multi-state standards, accusing him of illegally meddling in education policy.
An arrest was announced this morning in connection with last week’s bomb scare at UL Lafayette.
Attorneys, judges and others interviewed by LaPolitics expect 15 to 20 district judge races this year.
"I feel like I'm under siege," an attorney said recently over drinks at Galatoire's Bistro in Baton Rouge. "We all do. Every time I turn around somebody wants a check. District attorney races. The judges. They're killing us."
As a requirement for running for Congress in the 6th District, former Gov. Edwin Edwards has filed his financial disclosure statement with the U.S. House showing his income in 2013 totaling $242,787.
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The legal challenge is part of a continuing struggle over Common Core, which has become controversial since the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted the standards in 2010.
The lone Democrat to announce he's running for governor, state Rep. John Bel Edwards, criticized Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal's budgeting tactics as "running the state like a big Ponzi scheme."