CAPC OKs 2019 budget, addresses future of The Aud

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The Eureka Springs City Advertising and Promotion Commission approved its 2019 budget on Wednesday, Nov. 14, but the decision didn’t come without debate.

Events coordinator Andy Green spoke to the commission about its Oct. 24 workshop, where he was asked to come up with a plan for next year’s special events under $200,000. Green said he has been working with director Mike Maloney and finance director Rick Bright to figure out how The Auditorium could sustain itself.

“We believe the time is right for decisive action and to set a new course,” Green said. “Our recommendation is to allocate $300,000 to the special events budget category and long-term planning for the future of The Aud with $200,000 earmarked for special events programs … and $100,000 earmarked only to begin the long-needed consultation and planning process to craft a long-term vision and strategy for The Auditorium.”

The extra $100,000 would come out of the reserves fund, Green said.

“We further recommend you approve tonight the overall proposed 2019 budget of $1,674,000 so the 2019 planning and strategy can begin immediately,” Green said.

Bright said the commission could choose from Plan A and Plan B. The difference between the two, Bright said, is Plan A includes the extra $100,000 for The Aud and doesn’t break up the programming budget by line item.

“The request was to approve a static amount for events rather than do line items so we don’t get stuck with a line item amount,” Bright said.

Maloney said the commission needs to start looking into ways to make The Aud self-sustainable. The Aud is directly tied to the city’s special events, Maloney said.

“It’s contingent on this commission to take a really deep look at what the significance of this building is for the community as a whole,” Maloney said. “This direction … is really the way to go ahead and take a foot forward in the right direction to create something this community can truly get behind.”

Green recalled when commissioner Carol Wright suggested establishing a 501(c)3 nonprofit to help The Aud, saying that comment made him think about a long-term plan for the facility.

“I can’t say without consultation that a 501(c)3 is the best fit for Eureka Springs and The Auditorium,” Green said. “I am looking for the opportunity to find a strategy that will work best for this community and for the facility you have.”

Wright said she’d like to see how Eureka Springs citizens can help The Aud. Many people in town are wealthy, Wright said, or have property they could leave to benefit The Aud. Wright suggested working with a consultation company to do a case study to see what resources are available for the facility.

“They might as well leave their precious town their most precious items,” Wright said. “The case study will tell you where the bucks are. Then you hire someone who goes out and finds the money.”

Commissioner Bobbi Foster said she liked that idea, saying she doesn’t want to take money for The Aud out of tax dollars or the CAPC’s reserves. Foster said she didn’t have enough information to consider setting aside $100,000 for The Aud.

“I cannot sit here in good faith and say I can approve another $100,000 when I don’t really know where that $100,000 is going to go,” Foster said. “I can’t do that and I won’t do that.”

Commissioner Greg Moon agreed.

“I like checks and balances,” Moon said.

Green said the $100,000 would be used for a consultation on the future of The Aud.

“I just picked a number I thought could cover the better part of planning for a year,” Green said. “It might not be that amount of money at all. We might find we can do it for far less, but you have to allocate some funds to go out.”

Mayor Butch Berry said The Aud did have a 501(c)3 but it shut down last year. He tried to set up a commission for The Aud, Berry said, and that didn’t go anywhere either.

“It needs a steady funding source,” Berry said. “A commission won’t work in this town without a steady revenue source. So far, the CAPC has been the best help, but a consultant could help us.”

Commissioner Terry McClung said the CAPC will always have money available in reserves.

“We can withdraw that any time. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in the budget itself,” McClung said.

Wright moved to accept Plan A minus the $100,00 for The Auditorium, and the commission unanimously agreed to do so.

The commission’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 12, at The Auditorium.

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