Dwindling funds for Music and Movies in the Park are leading Sequim city councilors to consider new funding options.
The annual summer event at the James Center for the Performing Arts consists of 10 weeks of music and three movie nights.
In 2008, the city received $16,000 but in 2010, donations totaled $5,800, so only one movie was shown.
So far the city has received commitments of $1,900 from seven businesses and private citizens.
About $8,500 more is needed for a full program.
City Clerk Karen Kuznek-Reese said the movie nights are well attended but music nights are hit-or-miss in attendance. She advocated against canceling the event.
“Once you do that, it’s difficult to start it up again and get the enthusiasm going,” she said.
City staff provided three possible funding options at the April 11 city council meeting — tapping lodging tax funds, using sewer fund monies or installing donation bins.
City Manager Steve Burkett said lodging tax dollars could be used because the program could be included with city brochures. Councilors spoke against using sewer funds; most liked the idea of donation bins and using lodging tax dollars.
Councilor Bill Huizinga said Music and Movies in the Park is outstanding and the $8,500 price tag is an amount the city can pay for now. He’s also partial to donation bins.
“If we don’t ask, you certainly won’t get it,” Huizinga said. “Put donation boxes out there and tell them this is run by donations. I’m thinking a lot of people would contribute.”
Mayor Ken Hays said it’s important for a city to invest in the arts and culture and that Music and Movies in the Park is one of the best community programs out there.
“We should be grateful so many private contributors have given so much over the years, but I think it’s not practical for us to expect that to continue on,” Hays said.
“A lot of communities that have these programs, the cities do fund them. If the city steps up, I think we’ll see more voluntary donations.”
Burkett said he recommends the program move forward this year with staff looking at donations received to reevaluate for 2012’s program.
Sharon DelaBarre, chairman of Olympic Theatre Arts’ board of directors, offered a movie night partnership to the city out of the OTA gathering hall, which has space for 100. Movie selections would emphasize family films, documentaries and musicals that wouldn’t directly compete with neighboring movie theaters.
“We thought it would be a really good community venture if the city could be involved,” DelaBarre said.
“You could retain some of the revenue from the film screening and put it in and support the Music and Movie program. We could promote this more throughout the community and it could be win-win on both sides.”
She warned that income wouldn’t be monumental with donation-based admission.
DelaBarre said she’s spoken to a film company that guarantees the lowest rental fee for use of the daily licensing, which the city would possibly pay.
Councilors will revisit the partnership and funding options at a later council meeting.
Contact city clerks at the City of Sequim, 152 W. Cedar St., or 683-4139.
Reach Matthew Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org.