Site Under Construction

June 17, 2019

Thanks for visiting.

The site is currently undergoing some updates to where soon there will be a Jobs & Opportunities section as well as an Events listing page, which will both be promoted county-wide. Neither are currently active per se but subscribe to the mailing list to receive the announcement when both are ready for use. Thanks.

Patrick Kelsey

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) (

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 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

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 / 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 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.