Roanoke’s frequently struggling arts and culture organizations want a secure lifeline. City officials want to toss them one, but first they have to figure out how it would work.
At a Wednesday afternoon summit where more than half of the 150-strong audience consisted of staff and board members from arts organizations, the city presented three models for stable arts funding and asked for feedback.
Though no plan for Roanoke was proposed during the summit, held at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, Councilman David Trinkle said the feedback will help draft a plan in the next six to eight weeks to put before the city council for consideration.
In collaboration with the Roanoke Arts Commission, Trinkle and Roanoke philanthropist David Wine have spearheaded an effort to solve the funding challenges faced by the arts. Trinkle noted at the start of the summit that the city already supports arts organizations, but he hopes to create a new process that’s “less random, less political, more predictable, more sustainable.”
“We cannot allow any of our arts and cultural community to go away,” Wine said.
A study presented at the summit asserted that arts organizations added $24 million to Roanoke’s economy in 2012. The study also asserted that tourists visiting Roanoke’s arts and cultural attractions spent about $11 million in 2012, up from $8 million in 2008.
Yet the same study, conducted in the summer by the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission, showed that overall these cultural institutions are living precariously. The 15 nonprofits that took part in the study reported revenues totaling $13.3 million — and expenses totaling $15.5 million.