Matthew Slaats, executive director, The Bridge Progressive Arts Institute, at November 5, 2014 community meeting

Three years after local arts officials approved a cultural plan for Charlottesville and Albemarle County, the body charged with spearheading the plan says it needs some tweaks.

The Piedmont Council for the Arts this summer applied for $57,000 in city funding to refine the document and identify a clear source of funding for the arts.

The Virginia Festival of the Book, Tom Tom Founders Festival, PauseLab and the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission also applied for the funding, city officials said.

The city may decide to split the money among some or all of the applicants, said citysSpokeswoman Miriam Dickler.

Council board Chairman John Peede said PCA and other arts nonprofits have been working on the plans’ education and advocacy goals, but funding has yet to materialize.

“In the previous cultural plan, there was no funding mechanism,” Peede said. “So, what is missing is the kind of funding that is necessary for a transformative impact.”

The $57,000 was originally supposed to be allocated during the city’s Agency Budget Review Team process, but none of the applications staff received merited the funds, city officials said.

“The ABRT felt, and council agreed, that funding for arts planning and coordination is important and therefore recommended that this be opened up to other organizations for application,” Dickler said.

The Piedmont Council for the Arts is one of three local arts nonprofits to lose an executive director this summer. In July, Matthew Slaats stepped down after three years at the helm of The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative, and in June, LiveArts Executive Director Matt Joslyn left his position.

Leaders at each organization say none of the vacancies are related but point to change in each organization.

“They may be related in that there is often a zeitgeist within a community, but there is not a crisis,” said Bree Luck, LiveArts interim managing artistic director. “At least for LiveArts, we had a director who had been here for six years, which is a long time to be at an arts organization if you are not a founder.”

A consultant hired to guide the 2013 document at the time recommended a local government contribution of between $400,000 and $700,000 in arts and culture.

A group of six local arts organizations — including The Bridge, Lighthouse Studio, LiveArts, Ash Lawn Opera, Paramount Theater and Virginia Film Festival — this year applied for a three-year, $300,000 grant from the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation, but were only offered $50,000.

The CACF does not comment on the grant application review process.

The money would have helped, said Slaats, but the arts community could use even more help.

“The arts sector in general in Charlottesville is misunderstood and under-resourced,” he said. “That causes good people a lot of difficulties.”

Slaats left The Bridge last month to focus on PauseLab, a new nonprofit he is running alongside the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. The new organization will focus on using art to solve community issues, he said.

The Albemarle County’s fiscal year 2017 budget recommends a $5,000 contribution to PCA. The council had requested $15,000, the document shows. The budget recommends no money for The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative, which had requested $10,000.

The Virginia Film Festival and Virginia Festival of the Book both received $10,000 from county coffers, the document shows.

The Charlottesville budget shows no contribution to Piedmont Council for the Arts. McGuffey Art Center received $24,000 and Lighthouse Studio received $8,300, the document showed.

More public funding is only part of the puzzle, Slaats said.

To truly progress, individual arts organizations should narrow their individual focuses and work together to secure resources.

“Everybody knows everybody, and the argument has been made to collaborate in a more meaningful way,” he said.

Meanwhile, Peede said he expects PCA’s updates to the plan will cure many of the 2013 document’s shortfalls.

“The 2013 cultural plan provides an excellent framework for supporting the arts and arts education in our community, but it did not elaborate on the funding level necessary to achieve each of the six goals,” he said. “For the revised plan, this funding level must be quantified and, also, the objectives under each goal need to be prioritized more.”

The city hopes to take recommendations for awarding the $57,000 to City Council in September.

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