July 30, 2014

We've kept our promise... funding the arts, culture and historic preservation ...and Columbia thrives.

Earlier this year a number of citizens were concerned that building a new state of the art, multi-use sports and entertainment venue in Downtown Columbia and argued that using a Hospitality Bond to finance the project would force Council to cut funding for other arts groups who depend on hospitality dollars year after year.
In February, I responded to those claims by standing in front of a room full of artists, performers and cultural leaders from across our city and promised to preserve their funding and, three months ago, I led the charge to pass a council resolution that put that promise in writing.
Today we are proud to announce that, despite those who said it was impossible, we've kept that promise and then some by growing total hospitality funding by over $1.4 million and increased funding for individual groups by $565,200 this year alone.
Not only have we made historic investments in organizations like the Nickelodeon, the SC Philharmonic, EdVenture and the Columbia Museum of Art which will grow our hospitality fund for generations to come, we've also managed to put over half a million dollars in the bank for a rainy day.
On top of that, we've leveraged funds from an existing hospitality bond with general fund dollars to fund millions of dollars' worth of improvements to our parks including major projects at Hyatt, Hampton, Southeast and Finlay Parks as well as start work on a new, state of the art pool in Greenview Park.
I've received personal notes from dozens of arts leaders thankful for us taking this significant step forward together. It's a big win for Columbia and we need to celebrate it as such.

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