FIRST ON 3: Wilmington Chamber asking for Arts Council support; But only if government ponies up tax dollars too

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) - The Greater Wilmington Chamber of Commerce sent an email out today (copy below) encouraging business members to join them in pledging their support for a local arts council. But they'll only have to ante up if local government does too.

The council's steering committee went before the News Hanover County Commission last month to ask for seed money to help get the project off the ground. The commission turned them down flat. The arts council has also asked the City of Wilmington for help, but council members haven't decided yet. And the state says it will only give if local government does too.

In today's email though, the chamber says, "In order to demonstrate a strong level of commitment from the private sector, we are asking our business members to join us in pledging their financial support for an arts council by April 30th. You will be only be asked to fulfill your pledge if funding is secured from local government sources by September 1, 2011.

County Commissioner Rick Catlin, who is on the Wilmington Symphony board, said in the commission meeting he feels the arts council steering committee should rely more on privately donated money like his organization does instead of a government hand-out.

HERE IS A COPY OF THE EMAIL:

Make a pledge of financial support for a new
Arts Council for Wilmington and New Hanover County

Cape Fear Future, an initiative of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, supports the creation of an arts council in Wilmington and New Hanover County to expand arts-driven economic development, to cultivate and sustain artists and arts organizations in our community and to enhance the quality of life for our citizens.

The Steering Committee established to create an arts council for Wilmington and New Hanover County believes that the best foundation for an arts council is a public/private partnership made up of government support from local, state and federal sources, and private support from businesses, individuals and foundations. The steering committee is currently seeking support from local government sources and believes private sector pledges may help leverage that support.

In order to demonstrate a strong level of commitment from the private sector, we are asking our business members to join us in pledging their financial support for an arts council by April 30th. You will be only be asked to fulfill your pledge if funding is secured from local government sources by September 1, 2011.

Thank you for your pledge of support for the Arts Council of Wilmington and New Hanover County, a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit organization. Contributions are tax-deductible as allowed by law.

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How can anyone say a majority of local taxpayers don't want to fund an arts council? All I hear are the usual hand full of local gadflys who are against everything.

IMO if you don't like the arts, parks and festivals and you don't want to support them with your taxes, feel free to move somewhere else.

"IMO if you don't like the arts, parks and festivals and you don't want to support them with your taxes, feel free to move somewhere else."

You are hurting your cause. Telling folks they can move if they do not want to see their tax dollars spent on non-essential services is not going to help you gain support.

Neither is the concept of asking businesses for support under the condition that the local government chip in also. The arts council could get 100% funding from local businesses, but turn it all down because they are dead set on getting their hands on some tax payer money.

Whoever thought this tactic up needs to get a dose of reality. It's not coming across well at all.

You somehow conclude that only people who support the arts council have a right to petition the government. Those of us who oppose it (and any other non-essential, niche expenditure) should move, as we have no right to make our positions known and voted on by the county commissioners.

Sweety, we not only have that right, we have that ability!

Taxes were never intended to fund moochers. I don't care if it's TANF queens spitting out babies, or pals of the city council members who don't feel like having a real job or getting dirty.

Taxes are for essential services that can only be provided by government. They're not intended to take money from the taxpayer and give it to selected niches that benefit only a handful of the population.

You want the arts council? Go for it. I can guarantee you that you will be met by crowds in opposition at every county commissioners' meeting....if they even discuss it. They've told you "No" once already. The days of the never-ending gravy train are over.

BTW, I'm much better at public speaking than I am at writing, so rest assured that I am up for the challenge.

to financially support an Arts Council...so be it. The County Commissioners have already said no...much to the delight of the majority of the taxpayers of New Hanover County.

Let the Arts Council hold bake sales and raffles...just make sure they get the required permits to do. Otherwise, the City or County might shut their lemondade stand down for lack of proper permits.

Use all the private money you want to, but funding an arts council is ***NOT*** a function of government.

Until we understand what taxes are for, and what is and isn't a responsibility of government, we will NEVER stop our quickening slide toward financial collapse.

So if your plan is to somehow embarrass the city and county into funding even more moochers than we already support, good luck. Tens of thousands of New Hanover County taxpayers stand ready to fight you.

I've told you this before - go get REAL jobs and stop trying to sponge off the taxpayers!