Fort Worth council members enthusiastic about arts funding proposals

Posted Tuesday, Apr. 09, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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FORT WORTH -- City Council members Tuesday enthusiastically greeted funding proposals by its volunteer arts funding task force.

"I think we and the staff learned a whole lot," Mayor Betsy Price said. "We don't like other cities outdoing us. We just need to get our financial house in order" first.

The task force , chaired by Westwood Contractors Chief Executive Robert Benda, recommended using a mix of gas lease and royalty earnings and general fund revenues to modestly increase proposed funding next year. The proposal -- if approved by the City Council -- would gradually reduce reliance on the hotly competitive general fund for the arts, and potentially raise the amount of money available each year, based on the city's earnings from unencumbered gas revenues that are in a trust.

Councilman Sal Espino, who has pushed for greater city funding of the arts, called the proposal an "outstanding recommendation."

"It's time to really go out to the community and ask what kind of art and culture do we want here in our city," he said.

The task force also recommended:

An annual city contribution to the arts of 2.5 percent of estimated economic impact, or $2.1 million based on the Washington group's study, whose findings were based only on data from the groups that responded.

Creating a local arts foundation;

Restoring Convention & Visitors Bureau funding to its full level in current contract talks, making the CVB's current arts grant program part of the contract, and linking the grants to hotel stays;

Looking into whether it's feasible for arts organizations on city property, including Casa Mañana and the major museums, to "piggyback" on the city's low electric rates;

Leasing office space to Fort Worth Sister Cities, whose funding was pared to zero in the 2013 budget, at the "lowest possible rate."Under the final recommendation, in 2014, $1.1 million would go to the arts in grants distributed by the Arts Council plus a fee paid to the organization for management of the city-owned Community Arts Center.

That would be a modest increase from the $966,000 the city contributed last year. Of the $1.1 million, $650,000 would come from the gas trust and $450,000 from the general fund.

By fiscal 2022, the last projected year of general fund money for the arts under the plan, funding would rise to $1.34 million, based on conservative projections for earnings growth. Of that, $1.25 million is from gas earnings, and $90,000 from the general fund.

Forest Park

The Forest Park "Road Diet" -- the city's planned narrowing of the near south side four-lane boulevard to single lanes north and south, a center turn lane, and bike lanes, between West Rosedale Street and Park Hill Drive -- is on temporary hold while the city reviews it with neighborhood associations further south.

Construction on the $100,000 project, including restriping, signage and other changes, was to begin in April or May. Scott Nishimura,

817-390-7808

Twitter: @JScottNishimura

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