TheatreSquared seeks money from tourism group

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - STACY RYBURN

FAYET­TEVILLE — TheatreSquared could get more tax­payer sup­port if the Ad­ver­tis­ing and Pro­mo­tion Com­mis­sion de­cides to con­trib­ute to the non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion’s mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar cam­paign for a new build­ing down­town.

Com­mis­sion­ers on Mon­day got a pre­sen­ta­tion from TheatreSquared’s di­rec­tors ask­ing for a sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment to bring the $31.5 mil­lion arts the­ater, bar, restau­rant, en­ter­tain­ment and ed­u­ca­tion hub to the cor­ner of Spring Street and West Av­enue.

TheatreSquared op­er­ates out of Na­dine Baum Stu­dios across the street from the pro­posed lo­ca­tion.

Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Martin Miller and Artis­tic Di­rec­tor Bob Ford asked the com­mis­sion to con­sider match­ing the $3.1 mil­lion com­mit­ment the City Coun­cil made ear­lier this month to­ward con­struc­tion of the build­ing. The in­vest­ment would get TheatreSquared closer to its $9 mil­lion pub­lic fund­ing goal out of a $36 mil­lion over­all cam­paign.

The Wal­ton Fam­ily Foun­da­tion has awarded TheatreSquared a $9 mil­lion 1-to-2 chal­lenge grant for con­struc­tion and $3.5 mil­lion put to­ward the venue’s de­sign. Miller said Mon­day Ar­vest Bank also ap­proved a com­pet­i­tive $18.5 mil­lion con­struc­tion loan for TheatreSquared.

TheatreSquared hopes to break ground this year and open in time for the 2019-20 sea­son

The Ad­ver­tis­ing and Pro­mo­tion Com­mis­sion in Novem­ber gave TheatreSquared $15,000 to­ward mar­ket­ing as part of its reg­u­lar grant-giv­ing process.

Com­mis­sion­ers ap­proved a $4.2 mil­lion over­all op­er­at­ing bud­get this year. Half of the city’s 2 per­cent ho­tel, mo­tel and restau­rant sales tax goes to the ad­ver­tis­ing and pro­mo­tion fund.

Miller said a long-term in­vest­ment would go in line with the com­mis­sion’s goals to pro­mote and en­cour­age tourism and to build pub­lic recre­ation fa­cil­i­ties.

Nearly half of TheatreSquared’s au­di­ence comes from out­side Fayet­teville, he said.

The money also would go to­ward a ba­si­cally per­ma­nent at­trac­tion.

TheatreSquared and the city agreed a lease re­new­able up to 100 years with no fi­nan­cial obli­ga­tion. The city also would own the build­ing.

Al­der­man Matthew Petty, who serves as the com­mis­sion’s chair­man, said he and Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Molly Rawn would go over the pro­posal and present fi­nan­cial de­tails to the com­mis­sion at the next meet­ing April 19.

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