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Photo by: Sarah Wilson - Performing Arts of Maitland provides the soundtrack to many city events, such as the weekly farmers market and annual art festivals.
Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016 2 years ago

Maitland cuts performing arts funding

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Funding falls flat
by: Sarah Wilson Staff Writer

Maitland events may be a bit quieter next year, as the Maitland City Council voted not to fund the city’s performing arts organization for 2017.

Performing Arts of Maitland (PAM) originally requested $58,000 in funding from the city – up from $56,500 in both 2016 and 2017 – to continue running its musical programs. The organization has been funded by the city at around $50,000 a year since its inception in 2007, which has historically funded roughly half of its operating budget. After a budget workshop with the city last month, PAM President Jeff Flowers reduced the organization’s request to $8,000. On Monday, the City Council unanimously voted to give PAM nothing.

In the same vote, the Council also turned down non-profit funding requests from the Maitland Rotary, New Hope for Kids, Relay for Life, the Winter Park High School band, and the Maitland Chamber of Commerce.

The decision sent PAM scrambling to decide which programs to proceed with going into the next fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1.

“The (PAM) board will review what PAM programs we need to focus on, and what programs we need to take a step back from,” Flowers said.

PAM currently runs the Maitland Symphony Orchestra, Maitland Stage Band, Baroque Chamber Orchestra, weekly music at the Maitland Farmers Market, PAM Cares and Creative Arts for Life, among other programs.

“If you want these events in your city, if you want this vibrancy and so forth, well you’re going to need to pay for the tickets,” Flowers told the Council at the July 20 budget workshop. “…There’s a reason these things don’t exist in other communities. Because they’re not supported.”

“…If you want PAM to be self funding the answer to that is we will go out of business… The reason its here is because you’ve been supporting it. Without your support it won’t exist.”

The City Council is in the midst of balancing a budget currently more than $1 million in the red. With that in mind, Councilwoman Bev Reponen said, the Council is forced to make difficult decisions.

“The city is looking at our general fund getting smaller and smaller, we’re in the negative and were in the negative last year…we have to say, OK, employees or music?” Reponen said.

“… I agree what you’re doing is really good, but if it means another employee that we can’t have to help the city, then we would have to choose our city needs over the music, and that’s where we’re sitting at right now.”

But equal funding to replace what the city usually contributes to PAM could fall into place in the coming weeks from an outside source.

In a 2005 settlement agreement between the city and the prospective developers of UpTown Maitland West, the developer agreed to donate $50,000 to PAM when a building permit is issued for the 200- to 300-unit multi-family development. More than a decade later, the development, which would be located on U.S. Highway 17-92 bordered by Sybelia Parkway to the east and George Avenue to the south, is back up for discussion, looking for approval from the city’s Development Review Committee next week.

If the DRC approves the proposal on Aug. 18, PAM could get that check before year’s end. And another check would be in the organization’s future, as the settlement also gifts PAM an additional $50,000 when a certificate of occupancy is issued for the building.

Flowers said the donations were added to the settlement as a way for the developer to try to build community support for their project. Per the settlement, the developer will also make a $300,000 donation to an after school program located within the city.

“That would help us a great deal,” Flowers said, “but I don’t know if its realistic or not to expect that yet.”

Until then, he said, PAM will continue to rework its budget as if half of its funding is gone, and look into additional fundraising and grant opportunities to continue its programing.

“It’s been a long relationship that we’ve had with the city,” Flowers said, “and we’ll try to keep up as much of our end of it as we can.”

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