Main Street finances down due to COVID
Marketing campaign fundraiser for organization rolls out next month
Main Street El Dorado is expected to roll out a new marketing campaign next month.
During an MSE board meeting Tuesday, Beth Brumley, executive director of MSE, said that much of September has been consumed with working with a consultant that was recommended by Main Street Arkansas to develop a fundraising strategy to help MSE survive the coronavirus (COVID19) pandemic.
Brumley and MSE board president Greg Withrow previously explained that the MSE budget has taken a hit due to the cancellation of several 2020 events because of COVID-19.
They said MSE has not been able to host a fundraising event since the Harlem Globetrotters’ exhibition show that was held in
February in the Wildcat Arena on the campus of El Dorado High School.
MSE was counting on its flagship fundraiser, MusicFest, but because of COVID-19, there were questions about if the festival would be held this year.
Those questions were answered in early August when MSE and the Murphy Arts District, who partners with Main Street to present the festival, announced they had pulled the plug on MusicFest 2020 and had rescheduled the event for October 2021.
In an annual contract for services with the MSE, the city of El Dorado provides $35,000 to help fund the executive director’s salary.
MSE kicks in $20,000 to help cover benefits, such as health insurance, and payroll taxes for the executive director’s job.
“In the interest of full transparency, the (MSE) program is operating off of money that was made in February and with the city’s contribution, we have enough money right now to probably make it until February 2021 if we don’t have another income-driven event,” Brumley previously said.
“If we don’t have any special events … About $8,500 a month is what our bills work out to be with payroll taxes, Wi-Fi (service that is provided for the downtown area) and other things we do on a monthly basis,” she continued.
MSE also relies on corporate sponsorships and community support to operate its program, which uses the national Main Street program’s Four Point approach toward community transformation and revitalization, including economic vitality, promotion, design and organization.
“So that’s why we got the consultant. We will work through a local ad agency — we’re not sure which one yet — and the consultant will help with the strategic plan and make sure we’re telling our whole story,” Brumley said last month.. “They’re more familiar with the entire Main Street program and, specifically, the economic impact it has.”
She told MSE board members Tuesday, “We’ll do a presentation for y’all to see where we’re going financially and what our marketing campaign will be. So by mid-October, we should be running on all cylinders for that.”
In other business, Brumley said the 2020 Airstreams on the Square, which was held Sept. 10 13, was a success.
“The airstreamers had a great time, as always. We had good weather and the community still turned out for that,” Brumley reported.
The third annual event drew more than 30 campers from several states who camped out around the Union County Courthouse for three nights.
Airstreams on the Square is part of a nationwide alternative camping movement that promotes the Airstream lifestyle and the economic vitality of smalltown America.
Since 2018, MSE has partnered with the Arkansas Razorbacks Airstream Club to host the event in El Dorado. The inaugural event was the first ever to be held in Arkansas.
COVID-19 changed up the event this year.
Airstreamers typically attend the annual SouthArk Outdoor Expo, which is held on the grounds of the El Dorado Conference Center, two blocks south of the courthouse, but the 2020 expo was canceled because of the public health crisis.
Tours of the campers were also scrapped this year.
However, MSE board members planned ancillary activities, including a movie night and a sock hop/karaoke night, to help campers enjoy their stay in the city.
The public was invited to attend both events and follow COVID-19 safety guidelines.
Brumley said approximately 40 local residents attended the outdoor showing of “Grease” on the night of Sept. 11 and though they could not tour the RVs this year, many residents visited with airstreamers and brought canned goods to support a food drive the airstreamers were hosting.
The food went to the St. Mary’s Episcopal Church food pantry.
Brumley said MSE is working to apply for a state grant that will fund a public art project, adding that Nov. 9 is the deadline to submit the application.
Pamela Griffin, MSE board member and president and chief executive officer of MAD, said MAD is working with the city to hang new banners on selected light poles downtown.
“Most of the banners that are down there now are AstroZone banners,” she said, referring to the popular, interactive art exhibit that was on display at MAD earlier this year.
“We’re putting up some new banners. Some are general El Dorado banners, some are general MAD banners and some are specific to shows (for which tickets) are on sale,” Griffin said.
Added Brumley, “We’re working with MAD to put up some banners around The Haywood.”
Brumley noted that The Haywood boutique hotel, which is a part of the MAD entertainment complex, opened Sept. 9 in the block surrounded by South Washington, Cleveland, Locust and Cedar.
She also said Datamax, a technology/office equipment supply business, opened its doors in June at 106 W. Main, Ste. 408, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony was planned for Wednesday.
Brumley told MSE board members that Almost Blond and Martha’s on the Square, both of whom occupy the space that formerly housed Larry’s Rexall at 102 E. Elm, had done some painting and installed new awnings.
The commercial space that formerly housed Mr. Tuxedo at 112 E. Elm is also under renovation, she said.