City boosts Art Center funding after rentals fall
A sharp drop in event space rentals at the Rochester Art Center , which officials say is due to the ongoing construction at neighboring Mayo Civic Center, have left the art center facing another projected budget deficit.
Art Center Executive Director Megan Johnston on Monday presented a request to the Rochester City Council for $95,000 in additional city money to offset the drop in 2016 rentals. The council approved the request, the second for additional art center funding related to the civic center project. L ast August, the council allocated $67,000 to cover a shortfall in the art center's 2015 budget.
Rentals at the art center have declined sharply during the civic center's $85 million expansion project. The center had 73 rentals in 2013 and 72 rentals in 2014. Rental revenue in 2014 was just under $185,000, according to an art center report.
The number of rentals fell in 2015 to 54, and in 2016, there have been 28 rentals to date.
Art center staff projected $110,000 in lost revenue due to decreased rentals this year. The center's total estimated deficit in 2016 is more than $125,000.
The center had budgeted for $200,000 in rental income in 2016, one-fifth of its $1 million budget. Its projected year-end rental revenue will be $90,000.
While approved the art center's request, council members expressed concern about any additional funding requests. Mayo Civic Center construction is scheduled to be complete in April 2017, and the council members said they don't want to see another request for extra funding next year.
"I'd like to see an effort to really close the gap with a harder sales push (next year)," council member Mark Hickey said.
Johnston said all indications were that revenue would return at the conclusion of the civic center's construction.
"The feedback that we've gotten is that people will fight to get there, even though they worry about parking, they worry about access, they worry about how hard it is to get through. But they're still coming, and that shows a real interest," she said.