Flyer FAQ: What is the A&P Commission?

We write a lot about the Fayetteville Advertising & Promotion Commission here at the Flyer.

We cover the commission’s monthly meetings and try our best to stay on top of which local events receive funding twice each year.

Over the course of our coverage, we’ve received a few inquiries from readers as to what the A&P Commission actually is and what are the details surrounding its relationship to Fayetteville’s two percent HMR sales tax.

After identifying a few common questions and a handful of other tidbits we think are interesting, we’ve put together a Flyer FAQ post.

Some of the information below is from our knowledge of the commission, some comes from A&P stories we’ve published here on the Flyer or documents we’ve received in agenda packets, and some is from a recent Mayor’s Corner video in which Mayor Lioneld Jordan interviews A&P Executive Director Marilyn Heifner.

It’s by no means an end-all, be-all, but it should help if you’re totally lost.

What is the Advertising & Promotion Commission?
It’s the group set up by state law to administer the city’s HMR tax.

What is the HMR tax?
It’s a voter-approved, two percent tax added onto sales at hotels, motels and restaurants around town.

Why two percent?
In 1976, voters approved a one percent HMR tax to be used to promote tourism in Fayetteville. In 1985, voters approved another one percent to be used for capital improvements to the city’s parks.

Is the commission a part of the city?
We’ll let Executive Director Marilyn Heifner take this one. “Let me make clear that the Advertising and Promotion Commission isn’t a part of the city, nor a part of the Chamber of Commerce,” said Heifner. “Because it’s set up by state law, we kind of stand alone.”

Who does the A&P Commission answer to?
The entire commission, including the executive director, answers to a seven-member board made up of four hotel, motel or restaurant owners or managers, two members of the city council, and one member from the public at-large.

Commission members serve four year staggered terms, ending March 31.

City Council members are selected by the governing body of the city and serve at the will of the governing body. Vacancies of the other members are filled by appointment of the remaining members of the commission, with the approval of the governing body of the city.

What does the A&P Commission do?
Using about $2 million per year in HMR tax funds, the A&P runs the Fayetteville Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Fayetteville Town Center, and the Clinton House Museum.

What is the Convention & Visitors Bureau?

Visitors Center

Located on the downtown square, the bureau serves as a welcoming center/gift shop and houses the offices of the bureau staff.

There are five staff members whose duties include convention, university and sports marketing, tourism-related communication and event management, and gift shop operation.

The group is also in charge of, the city’s official tourism website.

Besides trying to convince groups to host their events in Fayetteville, the staff also works to get Fayetteville listed in publication features, top 10/best-of lists, and other bragging rights-related promotions.

Some events and specific physical things that come out of the bureau include First Thursday, the official Fayetteville Guide, city maps, brochures, and advertisements promoting Fayetteville in general.

The welcoming center hosts up to 1,400 monthly visitors and gift shop sales are generally between $2,000 and $7,000 per month.

What is the Fayetteville Town Center?

Town Center

It is a 25,000-square-foot facility on the downtown square that people can rent to host events like business meetings, community events, parties, weddings, etc.

The Town Center has four staff members, a catering kitchen and a sound system. The center can be broken into three separate rooms, and if combined, the entire facility can hold up to 850 people.

What is the Clinton House Museum?

Clinton House Museum

Located on Clinton Dr. near the UA campus, the Clinton House Museum is the one-bedroom, 1,800-square-foot house where President Bill Clinton and Senator Hillary Clinton were married and lived in the 1970s.

The A&P Commission leases the property from the University of Arkansas which serves as a museum of Clinton memorabilia, includes a First Lady’s garden and houses a gift shop. The facility hosts between 200 and 300 visitors per month.

Does the A&P give money to local festivals?
Yes. If a festival organizer would like financial help promoting or starting an event, the A&P Commission considers applications twice each year. The funds available depend on what’s left over from the one percent of HMR tax devoted to tourism after all of the things listed above are taken care of.

Does the size of the event matter?
The A&P Commission considers all events, big and small, but says it prefers to focus on events that will bring in more HMR (hotel, motel, restaurant) collections.

Do all festivals take money from the A&P in their beginning stages?
Some events do, some don’t. For example, Bikes, Blues & BBQ received money for a few years, but the recent Block Street Block Party did not.

How much money do the event organizers receive?
It depends. To get an idea and for a list of who applied for what and how much they received in the most recent funding meeting, check out our June 13 story on event funding.

The Mayor’s Corner