Arts Center board split on budget | Arkansas Blog

Arts Center board split on budget

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The Board of the Arkansas Arts Center is still struggling with its budget in the aftermath of an Egyptian exhibit that didn't meet financial expectations. Leslie Newell Peacock reports on the board's meeting today, which included a difference of opinion on coming revenues:

The board adopted an interim budget for the 2011 fiscal year, one that will require a review in 60 days to see if income is meeting projections.

At the end of the 60 days, board treasure Mary Ellen Vangilder said Tuesday during a telephone meeting, the Arts Center should have realized one-sixth of its projected development income. If not, she said, “drastic” measures will be required.

The Arts Center ended 2010 some $1.7 million in the red because of a promised donation that was never made good and costs of the “World of the Pharaohs” Egyptian exhibit.

The new $6.4 million budget projects development revenue of $2.55 million, an increase of $1 million over 2010 donor gifts. The gap would be made up with newly generated dollars from exhibition sponsorships, 50th anniversary event proceeds, Tabriz event dollars, money to be raised by the board (some of it in personal pledges), and a $248,000 anonymous education grant already received. The budget also forecasts a rise in earned income through Children’s Theatre ticket sales and memberships and savings in contracted employment. Two members of the board, Chucki Bradbury and Lisa Baxter, voted against the interim budget as too optimistic.

Laine Harber, the deputy director for operations, said the budget included “maniacal expense control” and that new ways to save on costs like utilities and contract employees were under review.

The budget includes a $205,000 $195,000 payment to the Arts Center Foundation, which it owes $2.2 million. If revenues do not meet projections, the Arts Center may look at reducing or furloughing staff, among other cuts. Board members generally agreed that now was not the time to cut programming.

UPDATE: The budget also includes $100,000 for interest on loans from the Foundation.

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