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

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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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