Q&A: Arts Center…and then some, part 2

A follow-up response on Facebook to this original post prompted me to explain a little further on the funding for an Arts Center.  I am sharing here, so more people have the opportunity to have the information:

I do want to address an issue about funding that is brought up by this response: Again, the financial analysis has yet to be completed. Which means we don’t know how much any of it might cost—or where the funding might come from. Part of the financial analysis involves identifying possible funding sources. To be clear, I don’t think a single member of our Council has any intention of diverting needed funds from Public Works, PD, FD, or Parks & Recreation to pay for an Arts Center. That is to say, we aren’t going to NOT hire a needed officer in order to fund the Arts Center. That doesn’t make sense and isn’t very responsible.

Further, what if it turns out that the Arts Center can be accomplished with little to no funding from the City? What if the study shows the Arts Center will fund itself, be self-sustaining? What if, even, the study discovers a return on investment of $2 for every $1? The thing is we don’t know. Because the study has not been completed. You’ve said here “Do your free study, and in a couple years IF everything else is taken care then do your Arts Center if you must.” It is entirely possible the study team comes to us and says, “Yes, it’s feasible, but we need $5 million to make it happen right now.” And in that case, I don’t think anyone on this Council is prepared to budget $5 million to start an Arts Center next year. Again, that just doesn’t make sense (as you’ve noted, we have a number of critical needs to fund). But what probably makes sense is developing a long-term plan as suggested by your comment. And including multiple funding sources to accomplish that plan. There is funding available for arts (grants, for example) that cannot be used for personnel or for vehicles. Using such funding does no harm to other projects in the city that need dollars from our general fund. It’s easy for people to say, “Well, you can’t possibly get the money for that from outside sources.” But people said that about the $10,000 for the fire safety house, too, and once we had a plan, we did that—completely from donations and sponsorships from individuals and businesses in the community. This happened because it was something that was important to people in our community. Another good example would be the Sensory Playground project by Leadership Simpsonville. They’ll build that playground with nothing more from the City than our blessing. All the funding is coming from outside sources–around $20,000. The same thing could be possible for an Arts Center. After all, as I explained in my earlier response, this is what people in the community said they wanted.

Another point I’d like to make regards this statement about which you are absolutely correct: “But why not be unique!” During the market analysis, the team discussed finding Simpsonville’s nich–in detail and at length. It’s part of why they looked at all the other Arts Centers—to determine what else is in the area, to decide what’s not needed and what it is. The recommendation they will make will be for an Arts Center for Simpsonville—it will, in fact, be unique to our city and its people.

For other posts on the arts, click here.