by Sam Hieb
At last night’s meeting, the Greensboro City Council voted 6-3 to approve $20 million in public funding toward a downtown performing arts center. Council members Tony Wilkins, Dianne Bellamy-Small and Marikay Abuzuaiter were the three no votes.
The council’s vote ups the ante for the private sector to raise its share of the projected cost:
The decision gives private fundraisers — tasked with raising at least $20 million more — something concrete to point to, Mayor Robbie Perkins and other supporters said.
Where the last $20.5 million would come from remains unknown, and there is no guarantee the arts center will be built.
“So, go get your money,” Perkins told fundraisers after the vote.
“Come back, see what happens.”
I sarcastically say good luck with that. Even if the private sector comes through, questions remain:
Beyond the construction costs, the performing arts center likely would operate at an annual loss between $174,000 and $388,000, according to the latest review. It’s possible that closing War Memorial Auditorium, which the arts center would replace and where the city already loses money, would balance this out. But Finance Director Rick Lusk said the city hasn’t nailed down the annual loss there yet.
The coliseum — a larger facility that includes the auditorium — costs between $1.2 million and $2 million more to operate each year than it brings in to city coffers, Lusk said.
Council’s put itself out there; stay tuned.