Seven Longview cultural arts organizations could soon get a boost in funding that will help them bring visitors to the city for a variety of events planned this year.

“Through this funding we are able to continue our programming. This grant will help us continue our shows and our season,” ArtsView Children’s Theatre Executive Director Nathaniel Olson said. “With the grant, we will be able to do more advertising to reach more groups that we haven’t in the past. Part of this grant will allow us to do ads outside of the Longview area so we can reach further out into East Texas and bring more people into Longview.”

ArtsView Children’s Theatre is scheduled to receive $30,000 out of a total $192,780 in Hotel Occupancy Tax that will be divided among the city’s cultural arts organizations. The Longview City Council on May 13 will consider awarding grants from its 2020 Hotel Occupancy Tax funds to ArtsView, Gregg County Historical Museum, Longview Symphony League, East Texas Symphonic Band, Longview Ballet Theatre, Longview World of Wonders and Longview Museum of Fine Arts.

“It’s fantastic and it’s bringing us some much-needed relief,” LMFA Executive Director Tiffany Jehorek said. “We are so grateful for the city’s support of the arts.”

Each year, the city receives tax revenue from hotel and motel occupancy and distributes it as grants for community-based programs and activities intended to enrich local tourism and increase the local economy. In 2019, the city distributed $275,000 in funds to cultural arts organizations; that funding came from hotel occupancy tax revenues in fiscal year 2019.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic slowed, or, in some cases, halted travel and tourism leading to a decrease in the number of people staying in local hotels and motels. Longview typically distributes HOT funds Oct. 1 when the city begins a new budget cycle; however, the city was unsure whether there would be enough funds to distribute in 2020.

As the fiscal year concluded, the decrease in Hotel Occupancy Tax was not as drastic as the city had anticipated, so the city made funding available this spring to arts organizations.

Organizations must submit an application for the funds and explain how the money would be used. The city’s Cultural Arts Advisory Commission reviewed the applications and, in April, made recommendations for how the funds should be distributed. The City Council must approve the proposals at its May 13 meeting.

“We were just excited that we were able to offer some funding support for this grant cycle,” said Dietrich Johnson, the city’s assistant director of community services administration. “I know it’s tremendously helped our cultural arts groups as everybody tried to survive to the pandemic.”

The cultural arts organizations typically use the funds to help underwrite costs associated with promoting and marketing events to encourage tourism in Longview, Johnson explained.

Grant recipients must use the funds by Sept. 30, he said. The city hopes to resume its typical funding cycle this year to award grants again in the fall; however, that is based on seeing a “trend of normalcy occurring in terms of visitors and hotel stays,” Johnson said.

The proposed grant recipients have a variety of events planned for which funding will be used for marketing.

Gregg County Historical Museum is slated to receive $25,000, which among other things with help promote the Landmarks of Longview architectural home tour in September.

A proposal shows Longview Symphony League would receive the top amount of funding at $48,500. The symphony plans to use funds to help promote its Magic of Harry Potter concert in August as well as for tourist cards and season promotional brochures.

LMFA, which is on tap to get $30,000, will help use the funds to underwrite marketing efforts for such exhibitions as the upcoming display from Dallas collector Stan Graff’s private collection. The exhibit will feature a collection of early Texas art.

East Texas Symphonic Band is set to receive $18,710 to assist with costs associated with its planned spring concert, set May 24 at the Teague Park Amphitheatre.

Longview Ballet Theatre plans to use its $13,720 grant to create a promotional video to mark its 50th season.

Longview World of Wonders, the city’s children’s museum, plans to use a $26,850 grant to assist with promoting its exhibits.

ArtsView Children’s Theatre will use funds to help promote its two summer shows, “Disney’s Frozen Jr.” and “Disney’s Mulan Jr.”

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