I want to thank Echo Day and The Leader for your thorough coverage of the City of Covington’s recent budget meetings, particularly the issue of city funding for non-profit groups.
The purpose of my letter is not to question the shifting of funding for non-profits to the Covington Police Department. We are in full support of Chief (Buddy) Lewis and his department and certainly realize that they need every penny they can get to fulfill their duties. We also love having them as backdoor neighbors. Rather, it is to address something that was said by some aldermen during the budget meetings.
While discussing the non-profit funding, it was said that non-profit organizations have boards of directors who are charged with raising operating funds. The suggestion being that non-profit groups had become too dependent on city funds and were perhaps not doing enough on their own to raise operating money.
The Tipton Arts Council is one of the non-profit groups effected by the recent decision by the city leaders. We sort of saw this action coming last year when our funding from the city was cut in half from the previous year. We knew at that time that there at least two aldermen who stated openly that they wanted to eventually cut out any funding to non-profits.
In his defense, one of the aldermen who opposed non-profit funding last year, has since shown his personal support for the Arts Council by becoming a patron and we greatly appreciate that. As a result of last year’s budget discussions, the Tipton Arts Council did not even submit a funding request for the current budget year.
Instead, we set out to replace those funds in other ways. We became more aggressive with our patron campaign this year which brought in several new patrons, we have become more selective in they plays that we choose and when we schedule them, we began showing weekend movies once a month, we have expanded our promotional area to cover the surrounding counties, we make an effort to sell sponsorships for our events, and we’ve added some events to augment our schedule of plays such as the recent Broadway Comes to the Ruffin event and we sponsored the July 4 Children’s Parade and Patriotic program.
While the parade and program did not provide any direct income for us, we felt it filled a need in the community and would raise our name recognition and status in the area and perhaps pay off for us in other ways. We have also acquired a new easy to remember website address (Ruffin.theater) and revamped our website to make it more informative, more user friendly and easier to purchase advance tickets to our events. We have also expanded the ticket options on our website to include season tickets and group discounts.
I guess what I’m saying is, now that the city has cut funding to us and others like us, the alderman’s words ring truer than ever; it is up to our board of directors to raise funds. The Tipton Arts Council Board is doing everything it can to keep the Historic Ruffin Theater open and make much need improvements. We feel that the Ruffin is a landmark and a real treasure for our community. At almost every one of our performances, we have out-of-towners come and tell us that they wish that their community had a venue like the Ruffin.
Now, more than ever, we are dependent on local businesses, industry and the general public for our future success. That being the case, I ask that you express your support the arts in our community. Come to our plays, come the Ruffin to watch a movie, or come to one of our other events. I also invite you to become a patron of the Tipton Arts Council, We have big plans for our beautiful theater, but it will require financial and volunteer help from the entire community.
Tipton Arts Council