In an annual funding ritual, the city of Charleston has finalized its 2014 accommodations tax spending, budgeting a total of nearly $4.5 million for distribution to a variety of local cultural organizations.
Arts, sports and tourism groups must apply for grants and meet a set of standards before becoming eligible for such funding. The amount they receive depends on a variety of factors, especially long-term viability, according to city officials.
The funding in some cases remains relatively consistent from year to year, but it can fluctuate.
The biggest winner this year is the Charleston Convention and Visitor's Bureau, which is slated to receive $1.4 million.
Organizations getting six figures include the Gaillard Management Corporation ($350,000 in "pre-opening expenses"); Gibbes Museum ($157,500); Charleston Museum ($250,000); Charleston Symphony Orchestra ($170,000); Charleston Wine & Food Festival ($145,000); South Carolina Aquarium ($195,000); Southeastern Wildlife Exposition ($150,000); and Spoleto Festival USA ($225,000).
In addition, about 30 other groups are receiving grants that range from $2,000 (the Roundball Classic) to $55,000 (Charleston Stage).
New on the list this year is Jazz Artists of Charleston, which is getting $30,000. Columbia City Ballet is receiving $10,000 because of its new programming in Charleston. The Cooper River Bridge Run was awarded $20,000.
The city funds some of its own cultural initiatives with accommodations tax receipts, such as the MOJA Arts Festival and Piccolo Spoleto Festival ($68,000 each), Holiday Magic/Farmers Market ($75,000) and the Gallery at Waterfront Park ($27,000).
Applications for 2014 are no longer accepted; applications for 2015 will be available in July. The accommodations tax is derived from the city share of the 2 percent state lodging tax. Grants awarded to local nonprofit arts organizations can be used to pay for advertising, marketing, transportation shuttles, safety and public services and other efforts that promote tourism.
"Accommodations Tax Grant funds are designated specifically for tourism-related activities, as required by South Carolina law," according to the city. "Data to support tourism impact is required."
For more information, including access to a downloadable application form, go to www.charleston-sc.gov/index.aspx?nid=123.
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