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CALL TO ACTION: **A key factor for long-term success of the Levitt AMP program is 'community readiness,' whether there is commitment and support from local leadership and residents.
How can we work together to increase Berea's community readiness?
We are AMP-ing up fundraising efforts from the community AND asking for a greater commitment from the Tourism Commission as a partner in the coming fiscal year.
If you support this program we ask you to share your thoughts with elected and appointed representatives on the Berea City Council and Berea Tourism as they begin their budget process over the next few weeks.
Encourage the City to embrace the series as a signature event and leverage the program as a strategy for community vitality.
Erica Chambers, Berea Arts Council council Vice-President, spoke at this week's City of Berea, KY Government Tourism meeting. Erica advocated for the Levitt AMP Music Series program. Other members of the Arts Council board, AMP Berea Community Committee, and Peter Hille, President of MACED (longtime sponsor) were in attendance. They were there to address funding reductions from long time program partner, Berea Tourism. The Tourism Commission responded with the majority of the board expressing comments of support for the program. What was discussed in length, were Tourism budget cuts for FY 2019-20 by the Berea City Council. The legality of this was questioned and Berea City Councilwoman Emily LaDouceur asked for a legal opinion. Councilman Jerry Little, who proposed the cut, taking a cut-the-budget-to-measure-if-it-hurts-Berea approach stated that if the budget reduction hurts tourism in the city then the funding could be raised again next year, stating to Tourism, "You don't cut one thing out, you don't change anything that you're doing, no programs change, nothing changes. It's just a $79,000 reduction." View video.
This cut has trickled down to affect all of Tourism operations, including program partnerships. In addition to general city-wide advertising, advertising funds granted to community programs was reduced, and the $3000 line item for August Concerts that had been allocated to Levitt AMP Berea was cut from the Tourism budget for 2020.
A breakdown of Tourism support for Levitt AMP:
- 2017: $3000 cash / $1500 in-kind advertising
- 2018: $10,000 / $1500 in-kind
- 2019: $7800 cash / $1500 in-kind
- 2020: $2450 advertising reimbursement
There are a few things that set this program apart:
1. In 2014, the Tourism Commission was considering a First Friday program to address reinvigorating areas of town on the decline. When First Friday Berea was proposed by a community group, the Tourism Commission chose to give financial support to those endeavors rather than hire an outside consultant; they did not have the staffing capacity to produce the event in-house.
2. Tourism and Parks & Rec produced a August Concert Series in Memorial Park for several years. (Reports from that program: 4 Fridays, 75-100 in attendance, and musicians provided their own sound.) When we formed the partnership to apply for the Levitt AMP grant, that $3000 line item for the August concerts was allocated to the Levitt Music Series. Tourism and Parks & Rec would not have to produce the event with no drain on staffing resources, the Music Series would receive cash for general operational expenses and the program's impact could be increased.
3. The series results in national advertising for "Berea, Kentucky."
- 3 years of Time Square billboard announcements
- Levitt Foundation e-communication database of over 63,000 contacts
- Over 55,000 visits to the Levitt AMP website
- Levitt Foundation has 119K likes on Facebook
- At regional and national conferences
4. AMP Berea partners have leveraged $100,000 in Levitt Foundation grants to provide over $1 million of free cultural programming for our residents and our visitors. (Based on PollStar data.)
5. Case studies show the Levitt program is an important catalytic and contributory role in broader physical and economic revitalization efforts, leading to reinvestment in and reactivation the areas where concerts take place. Levitt white paper
6. The Levitt Foundation's mission is to strengthen the social fabric of America. The Levitt program uses arts-based strategies to promote social connectivity, fostering a deeply communal spirit - much needed here in the Berea community. Two outcomes from case studies: