Yesterday, LexArts and Lexington arts groups got to breathe a sigh of relief when Mayor Jim Newberry announced his budget. Unlike his predecessors, Newberry did not announce a contribution at the beginning of the annual Campaign for the Arts, saying he wanted to wait and draft a buget in consultation with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council. Most people we talked to seemed to think that was fair, but still, did that mean support was wavering in a tough budget year?
Well, LexArts ended up getting all of the $350,000 it received in last year's campaign, plus the promise of an additional $150,000, if the arts umbrella group can increase its donor pool. LexArts also got some affirming comments from Mayor Newberry in his budget speech, which are below:
Before leaving the economic development topic, I want to talk about LexArts. Last year, LFUCG provided LexArts with $350,000. While some may question the propriety of local government support for the arts, I view that support as nothing less than a vital component of our overall economic development effort. We simply cannot attract and retain the horse, health care and high tech industries we aspire to attract unless we have a vibrant arts community. The arts create the sort of environment that health care and high tech professionals consider essential, and even if you have no interest in economic development, the arts enhance our overall quality of life.
This year, we propose that we renew our $350,000 commitment to LexArts Campaign for the Arts and that we supplement that $350,000 with an additional $150,000 for a total of a half million dollars of LFUCG support. Initially, I wanted simply to raise LFUCG's contribution to $500,000, but after further thought, I wanted to do something more significant that just write a bigger check. Therefore, we are proposing that the $150,000 grant be available to LexArts on a 50/50 matching basis for contributions of $1,000 or less from contributors who have not contributed to LexArts before today. I am extraordinarily confident that the leadership at LexArts will succeed in obtaining the funds necessary to maximize the match. When that happens, the total existing and new dollars to LexArts resulting from both LFUCG's efforts and the efforts of new contributors will amount to $650,000. Further, by leveraging the $150,000 to create a pool of new donors for LexArts, the LexArts board and LFUCG can do much to insure the community's long-term support for LexArts which will be necessary to take it to a higher level in the future.
This effort is only a part of LFUCG's contribution to LexArts. We make space available to LexArts in both the Downtown Arts Center on Main Street and in ArtsPlace on Mill Street. We also pay LexArts $128,250 to manage the Downtown Arts Center, so when the value of the property management fees is included with the contributions, our funding for LexArts is approximately $628,000 plus the free rent on two buildings.
To my friends at LexArts, let me ask that you do all you can to make our matching grants arrangement work well. If it does, I hope we can replicate this funding approach with other agencies to magnify the impact of LFUCG support for vital services in our city.
For more on the mayor's budget address, click here.