Boost in hotel occupancy tax revenue is good news for local arts nonprofits
An anemic national economy might have Austin's nonprofit arts groups cutting back on projects and scrambling for audiences and philanthropic dollars. But thanks to increases in local hotel occupancy and the resulting increase in occupancy tax revenue the city's cultural arts funding program has more money to give to local arts nonprofits this year.
The cultural arts funding program's share of the city's hotel occupancy tax is projected to increase by $941,448, or 21 percent, over last year, said Megan Crigger, acting manager of the city's cultural arts division. The cultural funding program has $5.2 million to disburse for the 2012 fiscal year, compared with $4,370,083 last year.
"It's really a return to our pre-recession level of funding," Crigger said.
The city supports its cultural contracts program almost solely through the 9 percent hotel-motel occupancy tax, with cultural funding receiving about 1 percent of those occupancy tax dollars.
The city also receives $15,000 from the Texas Commission on the Arts.
Arts organizations are being notified of their fiscal year 2012 city funding. And the bump in money couldn't come at a better time.
Austin Shakespeare, for example, will receive $59,500 for the upcoming year, $15,000 more than last year, which is a 34 percent increase.
"It's been a godsend," said Alex Alford, managing director of Austin Shakespeare.
Alford said that meeting fundraising goals has been challenging across all revenue sources, including tickets sales, individual donations and corporate contributions.
Austin Shakespeare is currently presenting "Hamlet" at the Long Center's Rollins Studio Theatre.