Arts Council could be a possibility in Wilmington

Reported by Michelle Li – bio |email

Wilmington, NC (WECT) - One group is trying to bring an arts council to the Wilmington area.

Supporters say the area needs an arts council to help promote all of the theaters and galleries in our region.  Without it, they say, we are losing out on major tourism dollars.

Supporters took their case to city council Tuesday night, asking them to consider support.

"We really have to get in the game, and we're not," said Philip Gerard, an arts council steering committee member.  Gerard is also the head of the creative writing department at UNCW.  "There are a number of things going on around the state that are not happening in Wilmington because we don't have an organization here that could be kind of the ringmaster for all organizations and leverage private money."

Gerard says for every public dollar spent, the turnaround locally can be up to $18.

"Whenever you spend a dollar of tax money on the arts, you're going to generate some large number in return," he said.

Wilmington city councilwoman Laura Padgett helped serve on the steering committee, and at Tuesday's nights meeting said she'd like to see money allocated to the arts council.

"I would hope that when we get into the budget, we can put $50,000 into the budget on a regular basis and realize that the arts council will be similar to other economic developmental organizations that we fund," said Padgett.  She also said she would hope to have a 5-year contract for the arts council in order to see the full benefit and payback of its establishment.

There was an arts council in Wilmington about eight years ago, and it failed.  Some council members asked if supporters researched why.

It's an early process, but steering committee members say they need the support of local government in order to be viable.  They say the time is right to establish an arts council because there's financial support available now from the North Carolina Arts Council.  The committee has researched this project for two years and will continue to seek support through New Hanover County.

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