Originally created 12/06/06

Group lends support in funding

The Greater Augusta Arts Council is taking money from its own budget to help arts groups in Augusta until the city kicks in its promised funds this summer.

The council announced Tuesday that it allocated $20,000 for an interim grants program, with awards of about $1,500 to be granted to individual groups.

"It's an interim measure to lend some support," said Robert Mullins, the president of the council.

"It will be a streamlined process, so that within one to two months - maybe March - groups could start seeing funds," he said.

The Augusta Commission allocates money to the Arts Council, which normally re-grants part of it to other arts groups, but Lara Plocha, of the Augusta Arts Alliance, has said they were not re-granted any city funds through the Arts Council for fiscal year 2006.

"It's been a tough year for sure, and without being able to re-grant money it's made it that much harder," Mr. Mullins said.

In the 2007 budget, the city will give the Arts Council $100,000 to re-grant to local groups, but that money won't come down the pike until July 2007.

The interim grant funding will go to arts groups that did not previously receive city funding, Mr. Mullins said.

"For groups with small budgets, and we certainly have some like Storyland Theater, it certainly helps out," Mr. Mullins said.

Grants will be aimed to focus funds to groups in financial need, and on activities of "public benefit," the council said.

The "public benefit" argument helped arts groups get more money in the 2007 city budget.

City Administrator Fred Russell said the Arts Council and arts groups successfully argued the arts brought sales tax and hotel-motel tax dollars into Augusta.

Reach Jeremy Craig at (706) 823-3409 or jeremy.craig@augustachronicle.com.


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