Organizers to ask CVB for more band money

January 28, 2013 10:17:32 AM

Jeff Clark - [email protected]


After a contentious showdown Dec. 17, District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks will once again be on the agenda at today's meeting of the Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau's board of trustees. Brooks, who said he submitted a letter to the board and festival grants committee chairman Mark Castleberry, said he will not personally appear before the board. 


"We submitted a letter and put some stuff in writing," Brooks said.  


The letter lays out some things he and other festival organizers, most of whom are elected officials, agreed to, he said, including the fact that elected officials should no longer appear before the committee asking for festival money. 


"We've agreed to not pay anything in cash anymore and for elected officials to not go before the board," Brooks said. 


In return, Brooks is hoping the CVB will be more lenient in how the festival money can be spent, creating a festival category that will allow them to spend the money on entertainment. 


Under the recently implemented grant guidelines, events fall into two categories -- quality of life events and festivals. Those qualifying for festival grants may be issued up to $15,000. Only 25 percent of the money may be used for entertainment. Quality of life events can be funded up to $8,000, all of which can be used for entertainment. 


The letter requests festival funding be made at $15,000 and all other funding be made at $12,000. 


In December, Brooks turned down $15,000 for his annual Juneteenth Festival. 


"To (those of you) that voted to fund the festival, I will graciously say to you, on behalf of the Juneteenth Festival committee, we will not accept that grant," Brooks said in December. "$15,000 is what it costs for the entertainment. I came to this board almost a year ago, along with other festival organizers, and said to this board that before you implement your guidelines, let us have our input. We were told at that meeting we could have the opportunity and this board did not follow through with that."  


After refusing the grant money, Brooks demanded the grants committee meet with himself and other festival organizers, including District 4 Supervisor Jeff Smith, Ward 1 Councilman Gene Taylor and Ward 5 Councilman Kabir Karriem to discuss allowing them to use their grant money toward entertainment. Smith and Taylor brought in Clarance Carter and other artists for the Townsend Blues Festival, and Karriem brought Zapp and other artists to Columbus for the Seventh Avenue Heritage Festival. 


Brooks said today that he has not heard from the grants committee, and that is why he sent the letter. 


In other CVB news, Castleberry's board appointment expires in February. County administrator Ralph Billingsley said Castleberry has re-applied for the appointment and Fred Kinder has re-submitted his application for the position. The Lowndes County Board of Supervisors will make the appointment Feb. 4. 


The city council will make its appointment to the CVB board Feb. 19.  


Board member Dewitt Hicks' term will expire in February also. Hicks currently serves as the board's chairman and has re-applied for the two-year appointment.