Is the city council cutting funding to the Bossier Arts Council?
On Tuesday, October 4, the Bossier Arts Council announced via a Facebook post that the Bossier City Council had decided to cut funding to the neighborhood and the east shore plaza.
BAC manages social media accounts, booking and event management in the Plaza and helps bring opportunities and visitors to businesses in the neighborhood.
“As of 2018, the Bossier Arts Council has managed all events at the square. We have coordinated with organizations to ensure they adhere to city policies regarding insurance and permit requirements. We prepare the site for events and make sure it is clean after the event.We have done this faithfully for years.To call our new Executive Director (just two weeks on the job) for what she thought to be a meet and greet – and to have the mayor, chief executive and two lawyers sitting on the other side of the table was deplorable,” explained former BAC executive director Robin Jones.
“If the East Bank didn’t thrive I could see a need for change, but as things stand we’ve gone above and beyond our contract with the city to make sure new businesses want to be on the East Bank. and it’s a cultural gem of the city. The premise that they want to “take it back in-house” is absurd. It’s never been a role of the city. Beyond our contract with the city, we program also the neighborhood with family-friendly arts activities. We host quarterly art markets for creators in our community. We are celebrating our one year anniversary in a Louisiana state-designated cultural district. This is a ridiculous gesture and retrograde on the part of the city.
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At Tuesday’s city council meeting, current executive director Brittany Pope raised the issue with council members and urged them to allow BAC to continue running the West Bank district.
Pope informed the board that BAC is receiving $50,000 in funding specifically for booking management, event setup, staffing and more. If the city were to take over the district and the East Bank plaza, this funding would be removed from BAC.
“We’re all over the pitch,” Pope explained. “It would have a huge impact on us in the future if we no longer had this funding. Part of our long-term strategic planning that goes in the direction of our neighbors in the West Bank depends on our management of programming and seat reservation.”
Councilman Brian Hammons asked Pope, when someone books the place, if there’s a fee schedule and if there’s where that money goes.
Pope explained that for-profits pay a $250 fee while non-profits pay $150 to rent the area and the money is spent on pre-event cleanup and anything else they need. to occupy space.
BAC Board Chair Mollie Corbett explained that since the creation of the East Bank in 2018, it has always been managed by BAC and that the funding they receive for this represents 20% of their budget. and 1/5 of their annual operating budget.
“We are terribly misinformed that this was happening and we actually just got a $17,000 grant from the Community Foundation to upgrade the stage and provide new sound equipment,” Corbett said.
Corbett goes on to explain that with this decision and the reduction in funding, the BAC will no longer be able to carry out its role, but will move on and continue to provide quality, family-friendly arts to the community. programming as best they can.
At the city council meeting, the council took the decision to move the matter to the council meeting of Tuesday, October 18 after reviewing the file presented by the BAC.
“Bossier Arts Council has contributed time, resources and talent to the neighborhood and East Bank Square for several years and helped successfully navigate its growth,” said event planner Emerie Eck Gentry. . “There has always been a good working relationship between the Bossier Arts Council and the Town of Bossier and I don’t know why the change now. I hope Bossier management will recognize the value that the Bossier Arts Council Bossier brings to the neighborhood and to the East Shore Square and does the right thing.”
Meredith G. White is an arts and culture reporter for the Shreveport Times. You can find her on Facebook as Meredith G. White, on Instagram and Twitter as @meredithgwhite, and email her at [email protected]