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Brevard Arts and Culture Groups lose funding for the upcoming season

As reported in Florida Today:

The grant funding in question comes from revenue generated by the county's 5% tourist development tax on hotel rooms, vacation rentals and other short-term rentals, and not from local property taxes.

County commissioners decided instead to move the $530,000 in proposed grants into a budget that would help pay for beach lifeguards and promote the safety of Brevard's lifeguard-protected beaches, saying it will be part of the Space Coast Office of Tourism's marketing efforts to attract tourists to the local beaches. They also said they want to move another $900,000 in tourism cultural fund money expected to remain after the current budget year ends to the lifeguard program.

A 2022 study produced for the BCA by Florida Institute of Technology economics professor Michael Slotkin estimated that Space Coast arts and cultural organizations were responsible for $122.74 million in annual sales, 1,541 direct and spinoff jobs, and $40.98 million in annual payroll. The study estimated that 19.3% of the 1.71 million arts and cultural attendees at Brevard venues that year were from outside Brevard.

That is a big goal of the cultural grant program, under guidelines previously approved by the County Commission. The county wants what the tourism industry refers to as "putting heads in beds" of Space Coast hotels and vacation rentals, thereby generating more tourist tax revenue.

Under the guidelines, applicants for these grants must draw at least 1,000 out-of-county visitors for their event or season to be eligible for a cultural support grant. Applicants drawing 1,000 to 2,500 out-of-county visitors are eligible for $15,000 grants; those drawing 2,501 to 5,000 out-of-county visitors are eligible for $20,000 grants; and those drawing 5,001 or more out-of-county visitors are eligible for $25,000 grants. At least half of the grant must be used for out-of-county marketing to attract tourists to the area.

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Terri Wright held the position of General Manager at WFIT from 1998-2023.