Tuesday, August 5, 2008
True Friends of the Fayetteville Arts Festival
Tonight's meeting of the Fayetteville City Council laid bare the truth about who really supports the arts in our city when it counts and who talks a good game but doesn't deliver in a crunch. If you were at City Hall this evening or watched it on the cable channel, you know what I mean, because we all saw it with our own eyes.
Mayor Dan Coody walked on a proposal to give only $2,500 to Fayetteville Downtown Partners to assist them in promoting the 2008 festival. That would be about enough to buy two newspapers ads.
Ward Four Alderman Lioneld Jordan proposed an amendment to raise the amount to $32,500, which would restore the contribution to the same level as last year and the amount recommended by the council in May when they passed a resolution Jordan sponsored asking the Advertising and Promotion Commission to fund the festival. Jordan's amendment got only three votes -- his and Ward Two Aldermen Nancy Allen and Kyle Cook.
Citizen commentary was unanimously in favor of Alderman Jordan's amendment. Sarah Lewis, Chair of the Council of Neighborhoods, and Dede Peters, Vice Chair of the Fayetteville Arts Council, spoke eloquently to the need for the full funding. Daniel Keeley, President of Fayetteville Downtown Partners, didn't help the case very much. At an earlier meeting, he admitted that he had failed to request any funding from the A&P Commission; tonight he was unprepared to explain the budget or how it would be spent. He appeared to be supporting Dan Coody's motion for only $2,500.
Dan Coody raised several objections against Jordan's amendment to support the arts festival, while claiming that he really supported the arts. Right, an insulting $2,500 amount of support. Aldermen Adella Gray, Brenda Thiel, Robert Rhoads, Bobby Ferrell, and Shirley Lucas voted against Jordan's motion. Rhoads was the worst of the lot, trying to say he supported the arts festival, when he didn't even show up at the A&P Commission to vote for the piddling $2,500.
The City Council then unanimously adopted a compromise amendment increasing the appropriation to $12,500. Thanks to Lioneld Jordan for fighting for full funding then agreeing to support the compromise. The end result is that the City Council did come through with an appropriation for the Fayetteville Arts Festival, and it would not have happened had Jordan not stepped into the breech and provided the leadership to get it done.
It is sad that Dan Coody cut such a poor deal with the A&P Commission and that he recommended only $2,500 from the city. Shame on him for opposing Jordan's amendment for increased funding. Shame on the A&P Commission, with an annual budget exceeding $2 million, for failing to fully support advertising and promotion of our wonderful Fayetteville Arts Festival.