Free Marketing Workshop

On Friday, October 12 at Savannah Coffee Roasters, the Arts and Culture Alliance of Chatham County will hold the second in a series of workshops dedicated to strengthening the long-term sustainability of Chatham County’s arts and culture organizations. The workshop begins at 9 a.m.

In partnership with ThriveHive, this one-hour plus free marketing workshop is designed to help your arts and culture organization improve its marketing efforts, identify new methods of reaching audiences, hear how valuable a digital marketing strategy can be in today’s day and age, and how to best utilize it to reach the right audiences at the right time.

Seating is limited. Please register by October 9.

About ThriveHive:

ThriveHive’s mission is to guide businesses to achieve extraordinary local marketing results using the right blend of software, data, and people.

ThriveHive helps people working in local business do what they love by combining actual human guidance with easy-to-use technology to make marketing your business easy, effective, and affordable. With ThriveHive’s Guided Marketing Platform and digital marketing services, you can eliminate the guesswork, maximize your time, and get back to what’s really important—running your business.

September Update

[The following was distributed via the official ACACC email list and through social media.   If you received or saw neither, be sure you’re on the list or that you’re Liking and Following.  If you are Liking the page you may not always be Following it.]

September 23, 2018

* Free Marketing Workshop
* Weave-A-Dream Deadline Approaching
* National Arts Advocacy Day
* Chatham County Arts and Culture Directory and Calendar

Free Marketing Workshop

On Friday, October 12 at Savannah Coffee Roasters, the Arts and Culture Alliance of Chatham County will hold the second in a series of workshops dedicated to strengthening the long-term sustainability of Chatham County’s arts and culture organizations. The workshop begins at 9 a.m.

In partnership with ThriveHive, this one-hour plus free marketing workshop is designed to help your arts and culture organization improve its marketing efforts, identify new methods of reaching audiences, hear how valuable a digital marketing strategy can be in today’s day and age, and how to best utilize it to reach the right audiences at the right time.

Seating is limited. Please register by October 9. (Only 9 Tickets Are Available) (https://www.eventbrite.com/e/acacc-free-marketing-workshop-tickets-50448701424)

About ThriveHive: ThriveHive’s mission is to guide businesses to achieve extraordinary local marketing results using the right blend of software, data, and people. ThriveHive helps people working in local business do what they love by combining actual human guidance with easy-to-use technology to make marketing your business easy, effective, and affordable. With ThriveHive’s Guided Marketing Platform and digital marketing services, you can eliminate the guesswork, maximize your time, and get back to what’s really important—running your business.

Weave-A-Dream Deadline Approaching

The deadline for Weave-A-Dream funding, November 13, 2018, is approaching quickly. There are still a lot of funds remaining that very well might go unused.

If you are an individual or an organization that could use up to an extra $2,000 visit http://savannahga.gov/1026/Weave-A-Dream to see if you qualify or contact Rebecca Brown to discuss further. The Weave-A-Dream program should be of particular interest to those organizations that did not apply for FY 2018 or 2019 Investment funds and everyone else that could use some extra funds for their arts and culture-based project.

The criteria are very flexible but note that student-based projects are not permitted by the Arts, Culture & Historical Resources Department.

National Arts Advocacy Day

Save the date for the next National Arts Advocacy Day. The two-day event is scheduled for March 4-5, 2019 in Washington, DC. Personally, I have been attending for seven years with my students I and always find it insightful and meaningful.

For 2019, Americans for the Arts’ Arts Action Fund appointed me as Georgia’s State Captain. To that end, you will hear more from me as the date gets closer.

Given the current arts and culture public policy climate, I hope that the State of Georgia can have a strong showing and thus have a real measurable impact. Again, you’ll hear more about this in early 2019, but if you are interested in knowing more today and want to consider attending, let me know.

Chatham County Arts and Culture Directory and Calendar

ACACC is in the process of exploring options to provide a centralized database of all arts and culture organizations, artists, venues, and events. ACACC will then promote the directory and calendar countywide as funds permit.

If you are interested in knowing more about this or how you can add yourself to the database, please let me know.

Georgia’s Arts Funding Pathetic

Published in Savannah Morning News on July 18, 2018

Referring to the Editorial of July 10, I must disagree with the notion about Georgians paying close attention to national rankings, such as child and family well-being featured in the article.   

It seemed that few noticed the State of Georgia ranking last in per capita arts funding.  Georgia was 50 out of 50 when the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies announced in February that the state provided arts funding at $.18 per Georgian.  Since February, however, Kansas’ own funding decisions pushed Georgia to 49th position.  (Kansas also attempted to defund its entire state arts agency.)  For 2019, it is projected that the Georgia’s per capita is to drop to $.12. 

There is much news coverage about economic development, jobs, creative workforce, etc., and how Georgia is a top ten state for doing business.  This news all might be the case for many industries, but if you work in arts and culture, you might be scratching your head how all this might be true.  Or, if you are a not-for-profit arts and culture small business, then you are surely perplexed why things are so challenging with so much reported economic prosperity.  Indeed, a significant amount of attention has been on film and television production, but it seems Georgia’s homegrown arts and culture fabric has been muted.

For a point of reference, reported by the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the National Endowment for the Arts the arts and culture production contributed nearly $764 billion to the economy representing 4.2% of the GDP, supporting 4.9 million workers, and included both for-profit and not-for-profit enterprises.  The impact was more than agriculture, transportation, or warehousing.  For Georgia, this translated to $19.6 billion of economic impact, 3.9% of Georgia’s economy, and nearly 134 thousand workers.

Isn’t it time then for better public policy and funding for arts and culture?  I believe so.  Whether a sole arts entrepreneur or a major arts organization, both are small businesses and deserve the same attention, resources, and incentives as all other small businesses regardless of profit motive. 

On the one hand, tourists do not travel to Georgia to visit big box stores, manufacturing facilities, farms, or stay in a hotel room.  On the other hand, businesses do not relocate to Georgia solely because of the tax rates or incentives.  Both come to Georgia because of the activities, the events, the quality of life, and I am confident that the arts and culture industry helps to drive all of this.   

As for rankings, if Georgia could just increase its per capita arts funding to $.65, then, when looking at our Southern neighbors, we can at least beat out Louisiana.

February 2018 ACACC Update

It has been awhile since the last communication, but the time is overdue to update you on recent activities and to get the wheels moving again to advance the arts and culture industry in Chatham County.

Advisory Council Wanted

In short, ACACC needs to assemble an advisory council.  There are activities to plan for the betterment of the entire arts and culture industry, but it takes a team.

If anyone is interested in supporting ACACC through service, please contact me at info@chathamartsandculture.com.

2018 Priorities

Your help is needed to identify what is next for ACACC.  Personally, I believe the general coffee hours were beneficial to get the proverbial ball rolling, but it is now time to get down to business.  

If you would, please complete a short survey helping ACACC to plot a course and determine what the future holds.

 

Governance Workshop (Updated)

On Friday, March 2 at Carnegie Library (537 East Henry Street), the Arts and Culture Alliance of Chatham County will hold its first in a series of workshops dedicated to strengthening the long-term sustainability of Chatham County’s arts and culture organizations. 

The two-hour workshop dedicated to governance is designed to help support a not-for-profit’s operational foundation.  The workshop is free and is open to current and prospective board members as well as the leadership of any area arts and culture organization.  To reserve a seat, visit www.chathamartsandculture.com / Events & Workshops.  Seating is limited to 20 participants.

The workshop will discuss the role and importance of proper governance, present best governance practices, and assist with conducting an internal governance audit.  Topics addressed are the fiduciary duty of board members, board recruitment, orientation, and training, organizational transparency, succession planning, and questions board members should be asking to secure the long-term sustainability and prosperity of their organization.

Click here to RSVP for the workshop.

 City Of Savannah Update

In December, proposed funding cuts by the City of Savannah’s City Manager were not accepted by the Mayor and City Council.  Two line items related to arts and culture were originally zeroed out, i.e., Cultural Contributions and a sizable appropriation to the Savannah History Museum.  The status of the Savannah History Museum appropriation is unknown because the approved 2018 budget has yet to be published, but we know the Cultural Contributions were indeed reinstated.  Thank you all for speaking out against these cuts. 

Also, while the application for the Cultural Arts and Investment Program was overwhelming for many, a few local organizations did apply, and the majority received some funds to further their mission and to provide their programming to the Savannah community.  You can find a list of all recipients at the Cultural Affairs website.  

This year will continue to be an uphill battle convincing the City of Savannah that their investment in arts and culture is indeed a good one and on par with other investments.  What was recently disturbing news is the City Manager’s recent op-ed piece in response to Tara Feis not receiving City funding.  He stated, “The City of Savannah has gotten out of the festival production business, choosing instead to work with partners to grow Savannah’s festivals into viable, self-sufficient operations.”  What is troubling is the notion that not-for-profits are to be self-sufficient especially given they are originally formed to be a public-private partnership to improve the overall quality of life of those they serve.  This type of comment is not the first time this had come up and dated back to December 2016 when our City Manager first attempted to cut arts and culture funding.  It will be something to monitor, regardless.

 Chatham County Update

Late November 2017, after numerous attempts to discuss the role of arts and culture in the County’s public policy decision making, it was communicated to come back in February when they begin to discuss the budget.  It is important to note that the original question was simply where does arts and culture stand with their overall plan.  It is February now, so attempts to get a definitive answer will continue.  I will keep you updated as to the progress.

 And, In Conclusion

You will find on ACACC’s website everything that has happened, to date.  I do have a firm commitment to transparency.  Posted there are all prior updates, transcripts from City Council meetings, etc., for those that want to get caught up in what ACACC is all about.

Feel free to contact me directly at info@chathamartsandculture.com or 718-689-0620 if you have any questions.

Finally, please consider forwarding or otherwise share this communication with your network and be sure to continue following day-to-day activities through social media.  Only with strength in numbers can rhetoric be turned into action.

Funding non-profits is good business

Published:  Savannah Morning News, January 8, 2018.

Following up to Kristopher Monroe’s article Savannah Chatham budgets must reflect community’s cultural values, and after the City’s budget has been adopted, I believe it prudent to see the conversation steered away from intrinsic cultural values to government’s role in job development and economic impact regardless of the business model.  There should be no discounting the intrinsic values, but they often fall on deaf ears and in today’s political rhetoric the conversation needs to be re-framed in such a way that matches the thinking of public policymakers, and others, to better communicate that government’s non-profit funding is a worthy investment and just good business.

 The conversation shift should begin with the fact that “non-profits” are not-for-profit. Not-for-profit (NFP) organizations chose to pursue a mission other than capitalism and the pursuit of wealth.  NFPs have always been welcome, valued, and well positioned in the fabric of our society dating back to its founding and is very prevalent today in many facets of our and our family’s lives.  NFPs provide education, health care, social services, faith, and arts and culture, to name but a few.  Most of us benefit directly or indirectly from NFPs on a regular basis as they are a business model dedicated to addressing those needs or wants that government does not directly provide and to where capitalists cannot achieve a reasonable rate of return; yet, society-at-large supports them nevertheless.  NFPs fill a void, a gap between state-provided and capitalism. However, the trifecta of government, capitalism, and NFPs are intertwined, and it would be hard-pressed to separate them. 

The fact is that government makes considerable effort to further job growth and economic development.  If your mission is for-profit, then the government will create incentive packages including floating bonds, payroll tax credits, property tax abatements, income tax deductions, etc.  Also, any business model that has a decent rate of return will attract financing through investors, issuance of bonds or stock, bank loans, and venture capitalists.  If your mission is to make money, all you need is a good idea, and you will have a full spectrum of resources available.  The government will do what it can to support your new venture or capacity building efforts.

Alternatively, what do the not-for-profits have? Every NFP has basically been bootstrapped or born from grassroots beginnings and almost never with outside assistance like that made available to for-profit businesses.  It originates from a need and a passion for making a change.  There are NFP “advantages” of not paying tax on net income, not paying property taxes (though now there are fire fees), sales tax exemption, and, to a lesser degree today with recent tax reform, the charitable deduction.  However, these are only available if you can reach the point of building a sustainable business model dependent upon, in part, unearned or contributed income.  It needs to be said too that contributed income is not a result of begging, like it is often perceived, and is instead the contributions made from the public, corporations, foundations, and government collectively wanting to see the mission fulfilled for the benefit of society, i.e., the greater good. 

The State of Georgia has a plethora of incentive options available if you want to move your small for-profit business to Georgia, but none apply to the NFP.  Also, what financing options are available for an NFP?  Every government-backed small business loan program lists specifically for-profit business.  Other NFP financing options are hard to come by except by private lender and putting up one’s personal collateral. 

It should be stated too, for example, when was the last time you saw the public celebration of an NFP expanding, starting up, or moving to the State of Georgia? 

NFPs should be commended and celebrated for their efforts.  NFPs do more with less, in part because they must. They also bring out the best in members of our society.  Without any incentive to pursue a mission that has no financial benefit to individuals or investors — outside of a job, and that is not always the case — would anyone in their right mind do this?  The reason is that we value NFPs. Profit is not always a prime directive, and it should not be a qualification for the government when evaluating how it wishes to support small businesses.  NFPs are a small business like any for-profit business.  Indeed, the NFP sector is a business sector, and that notion is often forgotten.  The NFP business model’s income statement contains a revenue side and an expense side but, at the end of the day, the net income earned is put back into furthering the mission and not into the pockets of investors.  NFPs are themselves small businesses with comparable jobs and a significant economic impact comparable to any other for-profit business.  Perhaps it is the time that comparable efforts be made to support the NFP sector as made to support the for-profit sector.  Look to lost revenue or the expenses incurred for all small businesses and evaluate them on equal footing.   

At the end of the day, anything that impacts government budgets must be closely evaluated.  The debates today are the expense line item for contract services and the role of the City of Savannah in funding NFPs.  With the new year, the debate should be shifted to how much revenue is not, in fact, being collected through all available revenue streams and the expense of business incentive or financing packages.  The government should communicate the value of investments and lost revenue, through a recorded in-kind transaction perhaps, and let the public decide what it wants to prioritize; either government is involved with supporting all business models or perhaps none.  The funding process through these contract services for the NFPs is equivalent to those business incentives for the for-profit businesses.  Any expense to the city must also be compared to lost revenue.  They impact the budget and the taxpayer the same.  The funding process through contract services provides incentives to NFPs to extend their programming, a tool to leverage additional outside funding, and help to provide accessibility to all in our community.

[The following was edited out of the published version]

An additional response to Mr. Monroe’s article is the conversation extended to include the contract services process being both competitive and accessible.  Worthy organizations that contribute much to our economy did not apply because of the excessive rigor that the application called for, inclusive of final reporting requirements and the data-driven metrics that are not always feasible for small organizations.  One could call this border-line business discrimination as it favors the established and shuns the new start-ups, the established but smaller organizations, and the volunteer-driven NFPs.  There is also the debate about the NFP’s revenue diversification and perceived over-reliance on the government, but then this falls to the NFPs needing to ask itself where the board is and be sure their board is exercising their legal or fiduciary duties of providing good governance and addressing long-term sustainability.  Finally, if one wants to implement the community’s values, then the government should not be directly evaluating individual investment opportunities.  Instead, install commissioners for all NFP investment funds, like that of cultural affairs, and let it make recommendations at the community level then apply a logical and transparent funding model to distribute investment funds. 

We are on the edge of a new year, and it is time for earnest conversations that move from rhetoric to action.  In a year, we must not find ourselves again debating our government’s budget.   We now have the time and can instead truly prioritize where to invest taxpayer resources in a fair, equitable, and transparent manner for the betterment of our society and prosperity in all businesses regardless of mission.

City Council Speech – 2017

City of Savannah, City Council Meeting, Thursday, December 7, 2017

https://savannahgovtv.viebit.com/player.php?hash=11H0E89ZuLJK

(Start at 1:54 during the Budget’s 1st Readings for an industry-wide response to arts and culture funding)

Transcript:

Mr. Mayor.   City Council.

Happy holidays to you and your families.

My name is Patrick Kelsey, and I represent the Arts and Culture Alliance of Chatham County.

About one year ago, I stood in this spot asking for your reconsideration of the proposed budget cuts to arts and culture.  After a lot of input from the public, you restored funding for 2017. 

Honestly, I planned to repeat the message here today, but that changed last Friday when you rejected the proposed arts and culture budget cuts and reinstated them. 

On behalf of all those directly impacted and the entire arts and culture community, thank you. 

I truly hope the funding you have made available for arts and culture service contracts using the recommendations from your appointed Cultural Affairs Commissioners will provide a great return on investment in 2018, and beyond.

I’ll add that in August of this year you affirmed the role of arts and culture as valuable – both intrinsically and extrinsically –  to the City of Savannah when you added the arts and culture sector to Savannah Forward’s list of sectors contributing to a resilient economy.  That did not go unnoticed. 

Today, with the inclusion of the 2018 arts and culture budget allocations, you have only reinforced the clear and direct message that the City of Savannah sees the arts and culture industry as good business and a great investment.

During 2018, I hope that we, as a sector, can partner with the City of Savannah – and Chatham County, I’ll add – to promote and advance the arts and culture sector.  This being for the betterment of economic impact, job growth, quality of life, education, and overall community creativity. Finally, with your continued support, we find ourselves in 2025 having exceeded the goals and objectives as outlined in Savannah Forward.

Thank you.

November 30 Coffee Hour Recap

On Thursday, November 30, the Arts and Culture Alliance of Chatham County (ACACC) hosted a coffee hour for the arts and culture industry.  It was well attended by representatives from various organizations and disciplines, the city, cultural affairs commissioners, and local journalists.

The most pressing development discussed was the City of Savannah’s proposed budgets cut of cultural contributions.  Since the coffee hour, it was later announced the City has since rejected the proposed cut and instated an allocation equal to 2017.  (Note that the 2017 level is the same as 2016.  Given the dire state of the City budget, it was not to be unexpected.) To that end, should the proposed budget be read and subsequently passed this month, it is hopeful that the cultural affairs commission’s recommendations for investment funds be applied without modification.

On Thursday, November 7 at 2 p.m. is the reading of the City budget.  The meeting will be at City Hall (2nd floor, 2 E. Bay Street).  Given the nature of the meeting, like in 2016, it is sure to be a full house.  If you plan to attend, it is recommended you be there well before the start time. 

At the meeting, the Arts and Culture Alliance of Chatham County will sign up to speak before City Council.  It will probably be first come, first serve and speakers will be given 2-3 minutes to address City Council.  More details will follow once the agenda and updated budget are publicly available.

Anyone wishing to show their support of arts and culture funding is welcome to stand with ACACC during the speech to show solidarity.  Other speakers wishing to address their own specific concerns are encouraged to do the same too.

Given City Council has not, in fact, cut cultural contributions the response to City Council is no longer defensive, but a public affirmation that City Council made the right decision and understands an investment in arts and culture is a viable economic driver and the means to achieve the Savannah Forward strategic plan’s priorities.

Other developments:

  • At the federal level, with support from ArtsGeorgia, ACACC will be a grassroots sponsor at the 2018 Arts Advocacy Day in Washington DC.
  • At the state level, Georgia is one step closer to being number one for being last in per capita arts funding and on the eve of Georgia Council for the Arts’ 50th A legislative meeting is scheduled for December 8 at 11:15 a.m. with state representative Craig Gordon and state senator Lester Jackson to advocate for more funding for Georgia Council for the Arts and more small business financing or incentive options for artists and organizations.
  • The Tourism Leadership Council (TLC) is open to the formation of a new arts and culture committee.  The committee can be used for undertaking festivals, events, or other promotional activities. As a committee of the TLC, it provides the legal and other organizational infrastructure without having to recreate the wheel.  What they need is paid and active members of the TLC to make this happen. ACACC has already reached out to about a dozen arts and culture-related organizations that are already TLC members. Current members are encouraged to participate, but non-TLC members are welcome to join too and participate. Should this new TLC committee become a reality, it might be in place for a summer or fall 2018 festival or event celebrating all the arts and culture that the Chatham county has to offer.
  • There is little update on developments with Chatham County government. While they did address specific budget-related questions related to two museums that are under their control, ACACC was unable to obtain a statement regarding their position on arts and culture.  It was recommended to return in February when they begin budget discussions.  However, ACACC did meet with county staff at parks and recreation.  They are extremely interested in more programming and especially programming for our youth, and youth not just being the youngest citizens. It is very possible to sing their community centers, parks, pavilions, and other venues for classes, camps, performances, or even installation art. If you did not already know, parks and recreation is building two new outdoor amphitheaters at the L. Scott Sell Park in the far south-side of Savannah and the Tom Tripplett Park in Pooler.  Neither will be huge, but big enough for small-to-midsize  They are very interested to see more programming at the new memorial stadium too when it opens — outside of football season.  ACACC will plan to set up a meet and greet between parks and recreation and the industry at the start of the new year.
  • ACAC met with the Coastal Indicators Coalition.  If you’re not familiar with the Coalition, they are a group that monitors various metrics in the county to help build a better community through data-driven decision making. The downside today is that they do not currently measure anything directly related to arts and culture. On the upside, though, the opportunity does present itself to incorporate some new metrics leveraging data to help influence public policy decision making.  Early 2018, ACACC will endeavor to pull together the Coalition and members of the industry to explore this further.
  • In early 2018, probably late January or early February, ACACC will begin a series of capacity building workshops. The first workshop will focus on the foundation of any organization, the board of directors.  The workshop will cover board recruitment, management, and good governance best practices. This may be held in conjunction with a networking function to bring together organizations wanting new board members and those wanting to serve on a board. 

November 30 Coffee Hour Speech

Speech given at the November 30, 2017 Arts and Culture Coffee Hour at Savannah Coffee Roasters.

Good morning.  Thank you, everyone, for being here.

For those of you who are new, my name is Patrick Kelsey, and i serve as the facilitator for the arts and culture alliance of Chatham county.

If you are unfamiliar with the alliance, the original purpose was to promote and advance the arts and culture industry in Chatham county through positive public policy change for the betterment of economic impact, job growth, quality of life, education, and overall community creativity.

But, after meeting with many of you at the last coffee hour, we all realized this alliance has the potential to help unify an industry. It’s more advocating for better public policy.  It is about advocating for and improving the promotion of the entire industry to both our elected politicians and the general public.

In this room, you represent numerous disciplines, interests, profit motives, etc.  But, at the end of the day the one thing we agree on is that we all want to see a strong, vibrant, and prosperous arts and cultural scene.  

Arts and culture transcends all borders.  And, as they say strength in numbers and i do indeed believe that is true.  With your help, we have the ability to achieve what goals we set for ourselves.

First, a thank you to ArtsGeorgia for their ongoing support and to graduate student Jennifer Berghhorn for her help today.  If you’re not familiar with ArtsGeorgia, visit www.artsgeorgia.net and show your support for the arts in the State of Georgia.

I need to do a quick shout out to an old friend of ours celebrating its 100th birthday . . . The war revenue act of 1917.  Through this act, we have the charitable deduction.  Of course, this charitable deduction is up in the air with the proposed federal tax reforms, but hopefully — or more like optimistically — it will still have a strong role in the fabric of our society.

Before we discuss the elephant in the room, i want to provide an update for you on some other alliance developments.

At the federal level, with support from ArtsGeorgia, the arts and culture alliance will be a grassroots sponsor at the 2018 arts advocacy day.  We’ll be walking the halls of congress lobbying for pro-arts and culture positions when it comes to federal public policy.  If anyone is interested in arts advocacy day, let me know.

At the state level, Georgia is one step closer to being number one for being last in per capita arts funding. 

I have a legislative meeting with state representative Craig Gordon, and state senator Lester Jackson on the 8th and will do my best to advocate for more funding for Georgia Council for the Arts and more small business financing or incentive options for artists and organizations.  If anyone wants to join me, again let me know.  

The tourism leadership council is open to the formation of a new arts and culture committee.  The committee can be used for undertaking festivals, events, or other promotional activities. 

As a committee of the TLC, it provides the legal and other organizational infrastructure without having to recreate the wheel.  What they need is paid and active members of the TLC to make this happen. 

I have already reached out to about a dozen arts and culture-related organizations that are TLC members.  I’ve heard back from one so far, but if anyone else is interested, let me know. 

Should this new TLC committee become a reality, it might be in place for a summer or fall 2018 festival or event celebrating all the arts and culture that the Chatham county has to offer.

Speaking of the county, at the county level, on the one hand, i am not having the greatest luck with the commissioners or the county manager.  The message communicated to me was to come back in February when they are discussing the budget.  My question, though, was what was the county’s position on arts and culture.

On the other hand, i did meet with staff at parks and recreation, and i see a lot of potential there.  They are extremely interested in more programming and especially programming for our youth, and youth not just being the youngest citizens. 

Using their community centers, parks, pavilions, and other venues for classes, camps, performances, or even installation art is all right up their alley. 

Also, they are building two new outdoor amphitheaters at the L. Scott Sell Park in the far south-side of savannah and the Tom Tripplett Park in pooler.  Neither will be huge, but big enough for small-to-mid size gatherings.  Perhaps perfect for a travelling troupe?

They are very interested to see more programming at the new memorial stadium too when it opens.  (just be sure it is outside of football season.)  This could be concerts, performances, etc.  Think about this and let me know if you have questions.  I’d like to set up a meet and greet between you and them at the start of the new year.

Yesterday, i met with the coastal indicators coalition.  If you’re not familiar with the coalition, they are a group that monitors various metrics in the county to help build a better community through data-driven decision making. 

The downside today is that they do not currently measure anything directly related to arts and culture. On the upside, though, the opportunity does present itself to incorporate some new metrics to leverage data to help influence public policy decision making.

Early 2018, i am hoping to pull together the coalition and members of our industry to explore this further.

Also in early 2018, probably late January or early February, the alliance will begin a series of capacity building workshops. 

The first workshop will focus on the foundation of any organization, the board of directors.  The workshop will cover board recruitment, management, and good governance best practices. 

This may be held in conjunction with a networking function to bring together organizations wanting new board members and those wanting to serve on a board. 

Consider it speed-dating, board-style.  If you want more information on this when the time comes, let me know.

Before i completely lose control over this coffee hour, i have two more housekeeping things. 

Please like and follow the alliance on social media, sign up for the mailing list, and share with your network. 

To make this alliance successful it is all about getting the word out and i need your help to do that.  You can find contact info on the pen, card, or just visit www.chathamartsandculture.com.

Also, as i segue into today’s hot topic, i need for you to consider saving the date for Thursday, December 7 and 21 at 2 p.m. these are the last two savannah city council meetings of the year.  I plan to be there and will, i hope, address city council again this year.  Between today and the 7th though there is much work to do. 

And now, to discuss what is on all our minds; the city budget cuts.

This is the same situation we found ourselves in as last year, but in my interpretation it is more dire. 

I have already written to members of the city council, who are coincidentally in their own budget meeting at this very hour.  Also, i have already received a reply from a couple of the council members.    

I have on the table a handout with county and city contact information.  Take one and tack it to your fridge.  It’ll be posted on the alliance’s site after this morning. 

If you do not like what you hear or see as it relates to the budget or any other public policy decision, call or write your representatives today before it is too late.  Write your specific representative, both council members at-large, and the mayor. 

Understand that next Thursday the 7th they will read the proposed budget, and two weeks later on the 21st they will vote on the budget.  And, that’ll be it. 

This, in part, relates to why we are here today.  Beyond all the other cuts the city manager is proposing, $1.4m is being proposed to be cut that is related directly to arts and culture.  Half of the cut is the cultural contributions to which organizations have already applied for and to where the cultural affairs commissioners have already reviewed and made funding recommendations.  The other half of the cut is from the savannah history museum.  These were the only two obvious cuts that i observed when reviewing the budget. 

Oddly, these budget cuts are on the heels of the city council adding arts and culture to their list of priority sectors for economic development. 

At this point, I’d like to turn it over to you to give you an opportunity to ask questions and to discuss what is on your mind when it comes to the budget and arts and culture in our community.

October ACACC Update

Good evening.  It’s been a while since the coffee hour and my last correspondence, but I wanted to send out a quick update to where things are with the Arts and Culture Alliance of Chatham County (ACACC).

About the time Irma was arriving, I posted to ACACC’s social media the following: 

There was a fantastic turnout [to the coffee hour], and I believe there was full representation from the arts and culture industry. We had a great conversation to get things moving along to real action.  The takeaways, however, were that the industry needs to leverage itself and convince our elected officials, at all levels, that arts and culture is indeed good business. SEDA, Chamber of Commerce, and other pro-business associations also need to be convinced of this too and resources allocated to the same. This is going to require a lot of education and the correcting of perceptions, but it can be done. It will just take some time.  The other major takeaway was the unification of the industry and knocking down the silos for the greater good, i.e., cross-collaboration, cross-promotion, and promotion of the entire industry in and outside of the county. Finally, from the survey cards left behind, funding levels, workshop opportunities to help with capacity building, marketing, revenue diversification were of interest, as well as more educational opportunities for youth, and an industry-wide showcase festival.

Shortly afterward Kristopher Monroe wrote a great follow-up article.  You can read that here:  http://savannahnow.com/accent/column/2017-09-23/savartscene-arts-culture-alliance-looks-bigger-picture

The deadline has also come and gone for the 2018 Culture and Arts Investment Program.  The applications are in, and the Department of Cultural Affairs’ Commissioners have reviewed the proposals.  We’ll wait until later to see the results of that process and what funding the City of Savannah plans to allocate.  If you were eligible and decided to not apply for funding, I’d like to hear from you.  I’m collecting notes on the process to pull out later when the time is right, no attribution is needed.

Today, I’m currently working on two actions to further the ACACC cause. 

First, I am in the process of crafting an inquiry to our Chatham County Commissioners regarding their projected budget for 2018 and the inclusion of two earmarked allocations for select museums.  Also, I am asking whether funding can be more competitive or if County efforts would include more promotional activities in the future.  This will be a long process to turn around.  If you have not already noticed, they have added a new line item for museums, but there does not seem to be anything competitive about the process.  Let me know if you can shed some light on the history of Chatham County and arts and culture funding.    

Second, I had an excellent meeting with Michael Owens and Molly Swagler of the Tourism Leadership Council.  What came out of that was the possibility of the Tourism Leadership Council forming a new Arts and Culture Committee (working title).  With the expertise of the Council, this Committee would be used to leverage some of the ideas ACACC wants to pursue without reinventing the proverbial wheel. 

To that end, my question for you is whether there is interest in pursuing such a Committee through the Council.  What they need is a couple of things, activities they can get behind and individuals to be a member of the Council.  I am not currently a member, but I would be if this Committee were formed.  If you’re already a member, let me know.  If you’re like me and willing to join to launch this Committee, I’d like to hear from you too.  If we can reach critical mass with this, I’ll do the follow-up with the Council.

In the conversation, the activities they may be able to help with is promotional campaigns a county-wide arts and culture festival, among other ideas.  There are other activities such as the advocacy for public funding that ACACC will still be needed for as well as other planned activities.

At the current rate, I’ll plan for another coffee hour or something a bit more formal late November or early December, and we can all meet up again to continue the conversation and to develop a plan of action.

Please let me know your thoughts on all this as to what you think the priorities should be and to whether you would participate in a Committee hosted by the Tourism Leadership Council.  Thanks.

Last but not least please help to spread the word about the Arts and Culture Alliance of Chatham County.  It’s getting people’s attention, but the more, the merrier. 

September 7 Coffee Hour Recap

There was a fantastic turnout to the coffee hour, and I believe there was full representation from the arts and culture industry. We had a great conversation to get things moving along to real action. 

The takeaways, however, were that the industry needs to leverage itself and convince our elected officials, at all levels, that arts and culture is indeed good business. SEDA, Chamber of Commerce, and other pro-business associations also need to be convinced of this too and resources allocated to the same. This is going to require a lot of education and the correcting of perceptions, but it can be done. It will just take some time. 

The other major takeaway was the unification of the industry and knocking down the silos for the greater good, i.e. cross-collaboration, cross-promotion, and promotion of the entire industry in and outside of the county.

Finally, from the survey cards left behind, funding levels, workshop opportunities to help with capacity building, marketing, revenue diversification were of interest, as well as more educational opportunities for youth, and an industry-wide showcase festival.

Savannah Forward to include “arts and culture”

If you didn’t see it on the Arts and Culture Alliance of Chatham County (ACACC) Facebook page today (www.chathamartsandculture.com), I wanted to report a small victory today. I attended the Savannah City Council workshop meeting today, and I have good news to report.

Savannah’s City Council agreed to add “arts and culture” to the list of sectors they wanted to support through their Savannah Forward strategic plan.

There was a little debate as the original sector list originated from the Savannah Economic Development Authority (SEDA). My reading is the original strategic plan draft wanted to emulate SEDA’s priorities. We know, of course, that SEDA does not recognize “arts and culture” and that’s something that ACACC needs to address.

Regardless, once the City Council went “rogue” and moved away from SEDA’s limited list, City Council added “arts and culture” to their Neighborhood Revitalization priority.

Now, today, is the bigger issue to make sure there is demand for funding via their proposal process for arts and culture services.  Get the word out to all those that can apply and get those applications submitted as soon as possible. Personally, I’ll be at the workshop next Tuesday and see what they say.  More to report on that later.

Arts and culture industry must stand up for itself

Published:  Savannah Morning News, August 5, 2017

I want to applaud Kristopher Monroe’s article “SavArtScene: Arts Has Economic Impact On Savannah” and to suggest a call to action for the arts and culture industry.

First, he was spot on when communicating that the economic impact of the arts and culture industry in the Savannah Metro area was far more than $135 million and 4,548 jobs when taking into account for-profit organizations too.

The report is an absolute must read for both the city and county leadership.

However, it concerns me there is a lack of real recognition of such economic impact by our public policy makers. In December, the City of Savannah attempted to cut operating funds altogether and is today, in all likelihood, strategizing a way to phase out funding in the future. This city funding issue is in addition to Chatham County’s near lack of any operating funds at all, save a pair of special interest museums earmarked by commissioners.

I’ll admit it is only a rough estimate and warrants further review, but during the survey term the City provided $764,320 in cultural affairs funding and one could extrapolate that for each $1 invested (not expensed, mind you) in arts and culture that it returned $178. It is important to note that Chatham County contributed no operating funds. Furthermore, rough estimates reveal that during the same period, film and TV production’s economic impact was about $126 million. Between City and County, there was $2 million in funding and incentives, which thus returned $63 for each dollar invested. It may be the opinion of many that arts and culture is not as sexy as film and TV production, but the numbers show that it is a better investment. And, further, with arts and culture, all the profits stay in our community and is a true magnet for tourism. Tourism is not simply good for arts and culture; it’s more like arts and culture is fantastic for tourism.

What is pressing today, however, is the City’s “Savannah Forward” strategic plan. It will soon be released to the public, and will drive the budgeting process. What it will show is that arts and culture will be omitted entirely from the discussion. It’s not mentioned and not integrated.

I don’t have space to go into detail all the intrinsic or extrinsic value of what arts and culture provide, but suffice it to say that it contributes more than just an economic impact. Arts and culture helps to better literacy, mitigate crime, improve our creativity in work and home, contributes to cultural diplomacy, and improves our overall quality of life, which, last I heard, businesses want for their employees when considering relocation or expanding, among other values. Simply put, there’s no downside to arts and culture but alas it won’t have a clear place in “Savannah Forward.” You’ll find tourism and film and TV featured, but tourists do not travel to Savannah for film and TV production, they come for our arts and culture, along side its history and architecture. The food is pretty good too.

To respond to the City and to begin the process of advocating for more positive arts and culture public policy decision making at all levels of government an initiative has been started, the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Chatham County. I’ve already reached out to as many organizations as I could locate, but all are welcome to join the cause. The response has been good, but this town needs arts and culture leadership, and it needs to recognize there is strength in unity. It’s time to be proactive and stop being so reactive to decisions being made by our elected officials.

In conclusion, I stood before City council in December and said that the arts and culture industry is good business. It’s time for the industry to take a seat at the table to where there is proactive marketing, recruitment, and incentive efforts comparable to what is being invested in the film office and other industries. Chatham County and the City of Savannah needs to make active and positive public policy decisions and recognize the arts and culture industry as a driving force of tourism and an industry that contributes much to our community. The City needs to invest more, and Chatham County needs to invest, period. I encourage all to join the cause to help strengthen our economy, our community, our creativity, and our overall well-being.

Patrick A. Kelsey is a member of the Arts and Culture Alliance of Chatham County.

City Council Speech – 2016

City of Savannah, City Council Meeting, Thursday, December 22, 2016

https://savannahgovtv.viebit.com/player.php?hash=zCggFZfrw75D

(Start at :42 during the Ordinances – 2nd Readings for an industry-wide appeal to not cut arts and culture funding)

Transcript:

Mr. Mayor, Council Members:

My name is Patrick Kelsey, and I live in the 2nd district. 

Today, I come to speak for the arts and cultural industry of Savannah. 

In your fiscal year 2016 budget report, your vision statement states, “Savannah will be a safe, environmentally healthy and economically thriving community for all its citizens.” 

This, and your funding priorities developed to reflect citizen views and to guide your budget process clearly affirmed that the arts and cultural industry is good business

Today, we are now having the conversation about cutting funding with the potential phasing out of funding altogether.  Has citizen views changed in the last year?

By now you have made up your mind on how you’ll vote.  I can only hope what you do today and tomorrow will have a minimal impact on our industry, and all its citizens. 

If you need to raise the millage rates, for example, so be it.  Rates are significantly easier to manipulate than the health and vibrancy of an entire community. Also, do not forget without a strong arts and cultural industry you may not have much use for that $24 million cultural arts center when it opens. 

If the backbone to Savannah’s tourism is its rich history, architecture, and overall ambiance, then our industry must be considered the shoulders, and we have big broad shoulders. 

Savannah’s history has changed little over the last decades, but the increasing number of offerings has; and, that is, in large part, why more people visit every year. 

We have study after study from Americans for the Arts, Savannah Chamber of Commerce, Visit Savannah, and feasibility studies that we paid for.  But all reports lead to the same conclusion, the arts and cultural industry is just good business.  It warrants funding, it demands funding.  

Our industry is a magnet for discretionary dollars and goes to leverage other tourism dollars, to which you are all so proud of. 

Government funding also provides a “good housekeeping seal” for organizations that in turn attracts other outside funding and makes all this accessible to everyone regardless of age, race, creed, disability, or income.   

We need a master plan for our arts and cultural industry and as we are creative folk here, we don’t need outside consultants or studies.  Only solid savannah-based leadership.    

I understand clearly the challenge you face today.  And, I hope you  understand the challenges that our industry faces every day.  The city, in fact, needs to find the ways and means to increase funding in the future.  

Let us stop labeling this funding as an expense; and start calling it an investment, an investment that pays huge dividends, because the arts and cultural industry is just good business.

Thank you.