The Acadiana Center for the Arts secured a pledge of $240,000 on Tuesday to help pay three years’ salary for a position to cultivate new funding for the arts agency, which has been struggling in recent years to cover expenses.
The Lafayette Public Trust Financing Authority — a public agency that makes money through investments, financing and real estate and uses the proceeds to support public projects — voted Tuesday to cover the cost of a development director at ACA at $80,000 a year for three years.
“It’s like giving us a fishing pole to become more self-sufficient,” ACA Executive Director Gerd Wuestemann told LPTFA board members.
The $240,000 grant comes after Wuestemann made a pitch to the LPTFA in February for $750,000 to stabilize the budget while ACA develops a plan for sustainable long-term funding.
“I think this is more reasonable,” LPTFA Vice-Chairman Celeste White said of the revised request.
ACA manages the city-owned downtown arts center and oversees a broad range of visual and performing arts initiatives in the Acadiana area — live performances, art exhibits, workshops, summer camps and school programs.
The arts organization’s roughly $2 million a year budget is supported by membership dues, sponsorships, donations, grants, and admission to events. City-parish government gives ACA $285,000 a year, which helps cover utilities and expenses related to building maintenance at the city’s downtown arts center, which opened in 2011.
But revenues have not been strong enough to keep ACA fully staffed or to properly fund its programming, Wuestemann said.
ACA Board of Directors President John Chappuis said the hope is that a new development director will take the lead in searching out stable and recurring funding.
ACA had a development director at one time, but the position has been unfilled for a year because of budget constraints, and the pay wasn’t enough to attract an experienced professional, Chappuis said.
Some LPTFA members, despite the approval of the grant, voiced concern about whether the ACA will be able to keep the position in the budget after three years when LPTFA funding ends.
“My concern is dependence,” said LPTFA board member Melissa Theriot.
The funding agreement stipulates that the new ACA development director will have to meet certain performance standards for raising money each year for the funding to continue for the full three years.
Those benchmarks are to be developed by an LPTFA committee and were not formalized at Tuesday’s meeting.
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