Commission awards partial list of fall funding requests

Ellen Winters, an organizer of the NWA Juggling Festival, juggles next to her information booth Monday afternoon in the Fayetteville Town Center. Twice each year, members of the Fayetteville Advertising & Promotion Commission meet with event organizers who’ve requested financial help before deciding how to distribute unallocated A&P funds.

Photo by Todd Gill, Flyer staff

The Fayetteville Advertising and Promotion Commission met Monday to discuss funding requests for 16 of the 28 events and projects whose organizers asked for financial help this fall.

The group will meet in December to consider the remaining applications, which were put on hold at the request of Matthew Petty, an alderman who serves on the commission.

“I’ve only been on the commission for about a year, but I’ve had several applicants tell me the process was a little confusing,” said Petty. “And it’s a little confusing to me, too.”

Petty said when looking over the requests, he noticed that some of the applications didn’t provide all the required information or were technically ineligible for other reasons. He said there were two things that were largely ignored by the applicants.

The first, he said, is an eligibility requirement which states that any organization may make only one application each year. The commission meets once in the spring and once in the fall to dish out leftover funds from its regular budget.

Petty said three organizations broke that rule. While the groups weren’t requesting help for the same events in the same year, and while Petty said he believed the intent of the rule was likely to keep a specific project from being double funded, the application clearly states that an organization “can request funding only once a year.”

The second is a requirement to disclose the requesting organization’s regular annual budget. Only nine groups provided full disclosure. The others only included a copy of the budget for their specific event.

Petty noted that the funding application states that it is not the intent of the commission to fund projects that don’t truly need financial help. That guideline, he said, is exactly why the disclosure requirement was written.

Petty said while he didn’t know whether the applicants were confused by the instructions or if they had been told by a staff member that an event budget was enough, he felt like the commission should honor its own rules.

“I have a real concern about this, not just because it’s inconsistent, which leads to trust issues with the public,” said Petty, “but also because I’m not sure it’s fair to give out money to somebody who hasn’t followed all of the rules, and then deny it to somebody who has.”

Commissioner Hannah Withers said she has similar concerns with the funding process.

“It says in the application that funds are only meant for seed money,” said Withers, who pointed out that some of the organizations have been requesting and receiving funds for events that are many years old.

“I feel like events that have been here for such a long time but are still asking for money are taking away money from new events that could be developed,” said Withers.

With only a handful of eligible applications on the table, and over $260,000 to distribute, the group decided to move forward with the five originally complete applications and 11 more that had been updated since Petty first voiced his concerns in a comment on the Fayetteville Flyer last week.

Commissioners agreed to give the remaining organizations another two weeks to complete their applications for consideration during the group’s next regular meeting on Dec. 9.

The group also agreed to consider a complete overhaul of the biannual funding process, including what Petty called “some soul searching” to determine the commission’s true intent when it comes to funding events and projects with its leftover money.

Those discussions won’t begin until January, but some suggestions included writing specific rules on how many years an event could qualify for funding, or even allocating a set amount of money for different types of events in each year’s budget.

Below is the list of projects considered on Monday, including award amounts for each organization. The group left about $100,000 for the 11 remaining applications.

  1. Ales & Tails – Request: $19,400 | Award: $5,000
    Former A&P Commission members Brandon Karn and Maudie Schmitt requested $15,000 for advertising costs and promotional materials related to a new festival that features locally brewed craft beer and Louisiana crawfish, planned for March 29, 2014 at the Fayetteville Town Center. The commission decided to give enough money to help the group pay for rental of the Town Center.
  2. Arts Live Theatre – Request: $6,545 | Award: $2,500
    Arts Live Theatre requested $6,545 for newspaper ads, copying fees and other costs related to the promotion of its main and second stage productions during the 2013-14 season. The group received $2,000 last fall.
  3. Blues in the Natural State – Request: $20,000 | Award: $10,000
    The Ozark Blues Society of Northwest Arkansas asked for $20,000 to help expand the 11-year-old “Blues in the Natural State Music Festival” to a three-day event April 3-5, 2014. The commission agreed to help organizers buy ads with TFW, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Currentland, Nightflying, Cumulus, Butler Broadcasting, KUAF, Cox, the Visitors Bureau and Facebook. The group received $4,000 in fall 2012.
  4. Chilirhea – Request: $5,250 | Award: $5,250
    Organizers of the annual Chilirhea chili cook-off requested $5,250 for free rental of the Fayetteville Town Center for the Feb. 8, 2014 event, which aims to donate all proceeds to Alzheimer’s Arkansas and the Alzheimer’s Association.
  5. Clicks Creative App – Request: $9,625 | Award: $0
    The Fayetteville Forward Creative Economy Action Group asked for $9,625 to develop an iPhone app that serves as a directory of creative individuals and businesses. Commissioners questioned the utility of such an app and decided not to invest any funds with the project.
  6. Committee for Mardi Gras – Request: $2,900 | Award: $2,600
    Committee for Mardi Gras, Inc. asked for $2,900 to help promote the celebration of Mardi Gras in Fayetteville March 1-4, 2014. The funds would be used to print promotional materials, to pay a professional photographer, and to purchase ads in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, TFW, Fort Smith Times Record, Harrison Daily Times and Nightflying.
  7. Community Creative Center – Request: $15,000 | Award: $14,130
    Community Creative Center asked for $15,000 to help support its annual marketing initiative, which includes raising awareness of CCC, increasing classes, and attracting artists to its studio spaces. Organizers said they plan to place ads in print publications like TFW, Northwest Arkansas Times and Peekaboo. Expenses include design, printing and postage for class schedules and promotional materials, email blasts, street banners and two $450 portable clay wheels. The commission decided to fund all but the purchase of the clay wheels.
  8. Fayetteville Roots Festival – Request: $40,000 | Award: $30,000
    Organizers of the annual Fayetteville Roots Festival asked for $40,000 to help promote next year’s event (Aug 21-24) and to facilitate a temporary move of the main stage venue which is expected to be displaced due to planned construction at the Walton Arts Center. The event’s marketing plan includes advertisements to be purchased from various unspecified print and web media, radio and TV stations, and social media. The group received $20,000 in fall 2012.
  9. Fayetteville Underground – Request: $40,000 | Award: $40,000
    Fayetteville Art Alliance requested $40,000 for a second year of funding for the Fayetteville Underground, which is awaiting approval of its non-profit status. The venue operates as an art gallery and event space on the downtown square. It’s the third major request from the organization, which received $55,000 from the commission in May 2012 to move into its new location, and $40,000 in November 2012 for continued operating expenses.
  10. Freedom Fireworks – Request: $25,000 | Award: $15,000 (plus $5,000 in matching funds)
    Uptown Fayetteville Association Inc. asked for $25,000 to help put on the 2014 Fourth of July Freedom Fireworks event and a free music concert at the Northwest Arkansas Mall. Organizers do not plan to purchase any advertising, but noted that all marketing for the 2013 event was handled through in-kind sponsorships from Clear Channel Radio, KNWA, KFSM, Sign A Rama and the Northwest Arkansas Mall. The group received $15,000 last fall. The commission awarded the organizers $15,000, and agreed to add another $5,000 in matching funds if Uptown Fayetteville could find its own $5,000 in sponsorships.
  11. NWA Juggling Festival – Request: $5,710 | Award: $3,000
    NWA Juggling Festival organizers asked for $5,710 to help support the 20-year-old event, set for April 11-13, 2014 at the UA Global Campus and other locations around Fayetteville and the region. The commission agreed to help organizers pay for venue rental fees and printing costs.
  12. NWA TechFest – Request: $2,500 | Award: $1,700
    NWA’TechFest,’Inc. asked for $2,500 to support their event, which began in 2010 in the Rogers/Bentonville area before moving to Fayetteville in 2012. The group says it gives all $2 ticket fees and collected can goods to the NWA Food Bank. The event is set for Jan. 31 at the UA Global Campus. The commission agreed to help organizers pay expected rental fees for the facility.
  13. Primal Challenge – Request: $14,000 | Award: $4,500
    Primal Challenge, LLC asked for $14,000 to help support the second annual event, which features a four-mile obstacle course, set for April 18-19, 2014 off Dead Horse Mountain Road in Fayetteville. The commission agreed to help fund the event’s new website, and to help buy ads from Facebook and other unspecified media.
  14. Renaissance and Fantasy Faire – Request: $5,000 | Award: $4,000
    Organizers of The Renaissance and Fantasy Faire of the Ozarks asked for $5,000 to help promote their event, set for April 5-6, 2014 at the Washington County Fairgrounds. Funds will be used to purchase TV ads and billboard placement. The group received $2,000 last fall for this event.
  15. TheatreSquared – Request: $28,000 | Award: $28,000
    TheatreSquared asked for $28,000 to help promote next year’s season and to expand marketing to Oklahoma and Southeast Missouri. Funds will be used to buy brochures, pay for private party and corporate events, and to purchase ads in NWA Media publications, CitiScapes, Fayetteville Flyer and Cox Media. TheatreSquared received $20,000 last fall to support its current season, and $15,000 last spring to support its annual Gala for Education fundraiser event.
  16. UA Drama Spiritual Awakenings – Request: $7,000 | Award: $1,000
    The University of Arkansas Department of Drama asked for $7,000 to purchase equipment and to promote its production of the musical Spring Awakening from Feb. 21 through March 2, 2014 on the UA campus. The commission agreed to help the group purchase ads for the event, but declined to pay for sound equipment the department says it needs.