Painting a picture: Martin presents May Festival of the Arts events

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Eureka Springs City Advertising and Promotion Commission has a pretty good idea of what’s going to be happening in town during May Festival of the Arts.

On Wednesday, Feb. 8, Eureka Springs Arts Council chairwoman Sandy Martin presented the events planned for May Festival of the Arts. Martin thanked the commission for supporting the festival. The commission budgeted $15,000 to bring new events to the city during this year’s festival.

“Thank you for your support with the budget you allocated,” she said. “This year, we have three key events.”

The first event, Martin said, is called Four Seasons. She said artist Janet Alexander will be producing four 14-foot-tall sculptures based on the different seasons of the year. Alexander’s original plan was to place the sculptures by the bandshell in Basin Park, Martin said, but that changed when the parks department reported problems placing the art in that location.

“They’ve come up with another scheme, so the sculptures will go over the park itself,” Martin said. “They’ll be very colorful … very visual. They’ll be like trees.”

Martin added that several events are planned around the sculptures in Basin Park throughout the month, saying an interactive dance and interactive make-your-own-mobile event are planned. Visitors will be invited to create a mobile of their own, Martin explained, to serve as a reminder of Eureka Springs.

“They get that souvenir to take back from Eureka Springs,” she said.

Another event planned for the month, she continued, is a production by Five & Dime Drama Collective. Martin said the production is a multimedia play that will be held in The Auditorium. The best part of the production, she said, is how many local artists are involved with it.

“They’re engaging local actors, musicians, artists, multimedia …and it’s really engaging the community,” she said. “It just seems like the performing arts is something we have been missing for a while. This is something organic. It’s made in Eureka Springs. It engages a lot of Eurekans. It’s something we looked at very, very positively.”

The last big event, she said, is called “Eurekan Spectacle.” Martin described the event, saying it will be an interactive play in an alternate reality. She said visitors can access the play through a mobile application in certain hot spots around town.

“You point your device at the location … and a play comes to life,” Martin said. “You see the live natural background and actors and actresses are superimposed over that.”

The application will be available for the city to use for a year, she said, making it one of the most sustainable events from the festival. Overall, Martin said, she’s excited about this year’s festival.

“It’s so unique. It’s fresh. It can only happen in Eureka. It’s organically Eureka,” she said.

Also at the meeting, the commission heard several market fund requests. The commission unanimously approved $250 for the Nuits Rose Wine Festival, $1,650.25 for Books in Bloom and $1,040 for Springtime in the Ozarks.

Director Mike Maloney presented a more contentious request for the Eurekan Multi-Sport Event.

“The funds requested were $10,000. We had some discussion about this, because it’s been a multi-year request and the feeling at the commission two weeks ago was this is a for-profit enterprise and it would not be acceptable to the commission to support it at this time,” Maloney said.

Commissioner Terry McClung pointed out that the commission does support the event, just not financially.

“We still advertise this through all the medias we have at our disposal. There’s just not anything singularly specific to this, but we do endorse it,” McClung said.

“Our Facebook page has already posted this event. I’ve seen it, so we’ve already started advertising,” commissioner Susan Harman added.

The commission voted to deny the request and moved on to discuss the postage for the Greater Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce visitor guide. Finance director Rick Bright said the commission has budgeted $40,000 for visitor guide postage and $9,000 for wedding and travel guide postage, totaling $49,000. So far in 2017, he said, the chamber has received requests to spend $17,000 in postage for the visitor guide.

“You might be looking at another $6,000 or $7,000. I’m thinking the chamber’s going to run out of postage before we run out of year,” Bright said.

Commissioner David Mitchell pointed out that the commission’s contract to pay postage for the chamber expires in 2018 and asked if there’s any way to control how that money is spent.

“Is there anything in there that allows us to question before the money is spent, or do we just spend on demand?” Mitchell said.

Bright said the contract requires the commission to fulfill requests from the public to send visitor guides out, and Mitchell said there should be something in the contract that allows the commission to have more say in how many guides are sent out. Mitchell suggested speaking with the chamber director to get to the bottom of it.

“We’ll say that we have some concerns in this current contract,” he said. “We need to have a discussion with them. Let’s get real. Just get real here.”

McClung said he’d like to see that happen, too.

“With the decline of the Passion Play and the advent of social media, the dynamics have changed,” McClung said. “I don’t know what the future of that book is.”

Mitchell moved to set up a workshop between the commission and the chamber to discuss the contract, and the commission agreed to do so.

Bright presented the financial report, saying the cash balance as of Jan. 31 was $503,335.49. He said the tax collections are remitted in January, but they are December collections. He listed these collections, saying restaurants brought in $35,969, up $769 (2.2 percent). Total lodging collections are $34,647, up $4,938 (16.6 percent). These lodging collections include: $9,114 for hotels, up $258 (2.9 percent); $13,428 for motels, up $3,484 (35 percent); $3,147 for B&Bs, down $43 (1.4 percent); and $8,958 for cabins and cottages, up $1,239 (16.1 percent). Bright said the year-to-date lodging collections compared with 2016 are up $4,938 (16.6 percent) and the year-to-date restaurant collections compared with 2016 are up $769 (2.2 percent). The year-to-date total collections, he said, are up $5,707 (8.8 percent).

The commission’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 8, at City Hall.

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