February 20, 2013 9:59:56 AM
A special meeting of the Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau's Festival Grants Committee scheduled for today has been canceled. According to committee member Bernard Buckhalter, the meeting was canceled because committee chairman Mark Castleberry would not be able to attend.
The meeting was the end result of last Tuesday's public meeting between committee members and festival organizers to once again discuss the CVB's new grant guidelines.
The guidelines were approved by the CVB's board of trustees in August and have been a source of contention among several festival organizers. Under the new guidelines, events are categorized as quality of life events or tourism events. Quality of life events have a financial cap of up to $8,000 and tourism events have a cap of up to $15,000. While all of the quality of life funding may be used to cover entertainment costs, tourism events may only use 25 percent of the grant to cover entertainment.
The new guidelines have been especially contentious for District 5 Supervisor and Juneteenth Festival Organizer Leroy Brooks, who has accused the CVB of trying to kill his festival and the festivals of several others, most of which are organized by elected officials.
At the Feb. 13 meeting, Brooks, who declined $15,000 for Juneteenth in late 2012, said he would never appear before the board again to ask them for "another dime." Townsend Blues Festival organizers District 4 Supervisor Jeff Smith and Ward 1 Councilman Gene Taylor have implied they will be sending proxies to request funding in the future. Seventh Avenue Heritage Festival organizer Ward 5 Councilman Kabir Karriem said he is not certain if he will apply for a grant for his festival, which is held in October.
The canceled meeting was scheduled as an opportunity for committee members to discuss what they heard at a public hearing Feb. 13 and make recommendations to the board regarding their findings.
CVB executive director Nancy Carpenter said she does not know when the meeting will be rescheduled or if it will be held before the CVB's next regular meeting Feb. 25 at 4 p.m.
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