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.