Tompkins County
New York

Report or Discussion Item

ACOD Program History and Process


Department:Strategic Tourism Planning BoardSponsors:

Meeting History

Jul 10, 2017 4:00 PM  Budget, Capital and Personnel Committee Regular Meeting

Mr. Spence said this portion of Room Tax money started by Stuart Stein, former Legislator. Mr. Stein and his wife Sandy had spoken of when they came to town in the 1970's and enjoyed some of the cultural benefits of theater, dance, and opera here and noticed that when they traveled that the first thing they looked for were cultural opportunities. They wanted to see that something happened to ensure the community's large established arts and culture organizations remained healthy and were kept alive. When the ACOD (Arts and Culture Organization Development) Program was first introduced and there was funding made available to larger organizations they were required to show in the first year that they were developing strategic plans and business plans in order to receive these Strategic Tourism grants. After the first year they were able to go after capacity-building grants and have remained in that mode of capacity.

In 2014 the Friends of Stewart Park said parks are cultural and wanted to apply for funding. Mr. Spence said they were found to not be eligible because at that time eligibility required them to have paid staff and space of their own. This eliminated their consideration but raised a question for the Strategic Tourism Planning Board of whether it should take a closer look at eligibility. Mr. Spence said changes were made and as they approached 2016 three new organizations were identified as being eligible: Cinemapolis, Community School of Music and Art, and Ithaca Shakespeare, and they applied. He said the total amount available had not gotten any larger but there were more requests. The Panel looked at whether there was any fair way to protect organizations that had received funding all along and Mr. Spence said the decision was made to base the funding on the application itself. Mr. Spence said there is more demand and more requests of this funding and it will come down to who is writing a concise application and clearly identifying how the funding is being used and will make the organization stronger, build their audience, and make Tompkins County a desirable tourist and cultural destination.

Mr. Klein called attention to information in the agenda stating there would be a request in 2018 to restore funding in the amount of $6,000 and asked if there has been any discussion of a proposal for increasing funding in 2017. Mr. Knipe said when the STPB budget committee met to discuss the 2018 budget they looked at the question of funding for the ACOD Program and the best way to address questions related to what funding could be restored and the budget presented represents the outcome of the discussion and recommendation. He said this is an application process and there is not a guarantee of funding at a certain level for any one of the organizations. Mr. Klein said his calculation shows ACOD was cut by $26,500 and even with the proposed increase of $6,000 in 2018 the budget will be $20,000 less than it was three years ago. Mr. Knipe reviewed how the budget was developed. Mr. Klein said he understands there is a grant process. He said there were five organizations that were cut from 2015 to 2016 for a total amount of $26,500 and is interested in restoring funding to those organizations for which funding has not been restored since that time to bring them back to their original levels. He said it is his understanding that those organizations were cut as a result of the total amount available having to be split among a larger number of organizations. Mr. Knipe said this is partially true and the proposed 2018 budget would increase the total amount. Mr. Klein said the Room Tax revenue has increased every year and there are new programs; one option could be to not fund new programs while older programs still exist. Mr. Knipe said the Program wants to have the flexibility to respond proactively and strategically to initiatives and having a balanced approach allows that to happen