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story.lead_photo.caption Marienne Brown of Kansas City, Kan., looks Monday at the three-dimensional piece by Portuguese multimedia artist Bordalo II at the Walker-Stone House in downtown Fayetteville. Brown was in Fayetteville visiting her daughter who attends the University of Arkansas. - Photo by David Gottschalk

FAYETTEVILLE -- An array of events, from pole-vaulting on the downtown square to the first music and sports festival at Kessler Mountain, will receive grant money from the city's tourism arm.

The Advertising and Promotion Commission on Monday allocated $115,100 toward 16 events or organizations in its latest round of community investment grants. The commission doles out grants twice yearly as a way to bolster events that pertain to its mission of promoting the city and tourism.

Spring grants

• Apple Seeds: Farm to table dinners, April-December: $2,250

• Art Ventures: Exhibitions and programs, April-September: $10,000

• Big Bot Design: Wampus Wonderland, Dec. 15: $8,500

• Bikes, Blues & BBQ: Vendor map, Sept. 26-30: $5,000

• Botanical Garden of the Ozarks: International festival, Sept. 16: $1,350

• Fayetteville Film Festival: Sept. 19-23: $15,000

• Fayetteville Roots Festival: Aug. 22-26: $15,000

• Fenix Fayetteville: Fenix Art Festival, May 3-June 30: $10,000

• Homegrown Music Festival: June 22-24: $15,000

• Little Craft Show: Nov. 30-Dec. 1: $6,500

• NWA Senior Babe Ruth Baseball: June 12-18: $7,000

• NWA Tech Fest: May 17: $2,500

• Open Mouth Poetry Festival: Nov. 1-3: $1,000

• Soldier On Service Dogs: Annual Dickson Street Slide, Aug. 26: $1,000

• Spark Foundation: Fayetteville Firefighters Hero Half Marathon, Oct. 12-14: $5,000

• U.S. Pole Vaulting Association: Fayetteville Street Vault, June 7: $10,000

Source: Experience Fayetteville

Half of the city's 2 percent hotel, motel and restaurant sales tax goes to tourism. The other half goes to parks. The commission governs the city's tourism bureau, Experience Fayetteville.

Last fall, 13 entities received $64,500. A year ago $96,000 went to 18 recipients. The budget for this spring's round of grants was $125,000.

Five of the events or organizations had never made the list before -- Apple Seeds, Fenix Fayetteville, NWA Senior Babe Ruth Baseball and a street vault event from the U.S. Pole Vaulting Association.

Some well-known faces continued to receive money. Art Ventures, formerly known as Fayetteville Underground, historically has received more than $138,000 from the commission. It got an additional $10,000 this year for various exhibitions and programs.

The Fayetteville Roots Festival, happening Aug. 22-26, had $15,000 added to its $89,000 gained historically.

Executive Director Molly Rawn and her team at Experience Fayetteville made a list of recommendations on how much to give to each applicant, which the commission ultimately approved. Commissioners discussed Art Ventures and Fenix Fayetteville separately from the rest of the list.

Rawn said she hoped to see some future collaboration between the two groups, both with art galleries on the square, so as not to split money for similar endeavors.

Commissioner Todd Martin said he worried the commission could get stuck in a trap between two competing organizations.

"If we could help bring those two organizations back to the table to talk and work more closely together, I think that'd be a great thing to do," he said.

A number of artists who previously showed at Art Ventures when it was Fayetteville Underground left the gallery in late 2016, forming Fenix Fayetteville. Disagreements among artists and leadership led to a rift.

Chairman Matthew Petty said despite whatever fight might have happened in the past, the two groups function as their own organizations. There's room for two art galleries, he said.

The commission approved the recommended $10,000 amount for each organization.

In other business, the commission approved a plan to expand the amount of rentable space at the Town Center and move its office next door.

The project would knock out the wall in between the meeting room area of the Town Center and its current office and make a number of improvements, including adding doors on east side. It has an estimated cost of $91,675.

The commission previously approved a number of other improvements to the Town Center, including new air conditioning, lighting and carpeting. Total improvements, including the new plan and leasing new office space, would add up to about $143,175 for the rest of the year. Rawn said there's money in the budget for the project.

Town Center Manager Jordan Garcia said the commission would likely see a return on the investment in about three years. The center has lacked an appropriate space for groups of 15 to 60 people, he said.

Commissioners separately approved the five-year lease to move the Town Center office to the building next door at 1 W. Mountain St. for $2,000 per month. The building is up for sale but the agreement would stay in place regardless of a change in ownership, Garcia said.

Commissioner Matt Behrend also gave a report on the Walker-Stone House committee's inaugural meeting, which happened last month. Committee members discussed ways to make the historic home, which the commission owns, more of a focal point downtown.

Rawn said a final report on the Walker-Stone discussion will be made available to the commission before its next meeting. A follow-up meeting is planned.

NW News on 04/17/2018

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