Belfast Creative Coalition's $10,000 funding request approved

By Ben Holbrook | Nov 27, 2012

Belfast — City councilors approved a $10,000 funding request from the Belfast Creative Coalition (BCC) at their Tuesday, Nov. 20, meeting for a part-time coordinator position after listening to a presentation highlighting the positive effect of a vibrant arts community.

Belfast Creative Coalition Coordinator Kimberly Callas presented numbers compiled by the Maine Labor Department and a study conducted by the New England Foundation for the Arts, titled New England's Creative Economy, highlighting the important role the arts community plays in the county.

According to the New England’s Creative Economy study, by aggregate, every $1 spent by a Maine nonprofit arts and cultural organization became $2 in sales for business. In addition, every job provided by a Maine nonprofit arts and cultural organization became 1.4 jobs for workers across the state.

Labor Department statistics from 2011 showed that creative industries represented 14.6 percent of the total number of establishments in Belfast, 8 percent of the total employment in Belfast and 7.1 percent of the total payroll in Belfast.

“Belfast has great potential to grow further,” Callas said, after presenting the numbers.

From a Waldo County perspective, creative industries represented 16.5 percent of the total number of establishments, 12.8 percent of the total employment and 12.2 percent of the total payroll.

Callas said BCC is looking at focusing on more marketing strategies going into the future after City Manager Joe Slocum asked what the biggest challenge facing the organization is, other than money. Although funding is tight, Callas said, the group has accrued about $16,000 worth of volunteer labor.

“We had 650 hours of volunteer labor,” Callas said.

The Creative Coalition is a collection of arts and cultural groups, businesses, municipal officers and individuals from around Waldo County that promotes and coordinates activities and collaborates on economic development fronts, according to the organization’s website.

In a report to the Council, Callas said BCC intends to continue operating on a $50,000 budget, with the potential for that number to grow if the organization is awarded more grants.

A breakdown of the organization's budget showed that $25,000 is spent on the part-time coordinator position; $5,500 for the office and phone; $2,500 for accounting; $3,500 for web hosting and maintenance; $1,000 for events and $12,500 for marketing for the creative economy.

Councilor Mike Hurley said he supported the funding, which BCC needs by February or March, because he felt it represented a significant portion of the local economy.

“I think this group is proving itself,” Hurley said, noting that the $10,000 request was a small amount to invest in the organization. The account from which the money will be taken has not been identified.

Councilors Mary Mortier and Eric Sanders agreed that BCC is a benefit to the community.

The funding request was approved unanimously 4-0, with Councilor Roger Lee absent.

Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or at bholbrook@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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