• Orange County mayor pitches new fund for Orlando performing arts groups

    By: Lauren Seabrook , Katlyn Brieskorn

    Updated:

    ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Orange County performing arts groups could soon be getting help in affording the rising costs in the industry.

    Arts groups have struggled to book venues like the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center, Bob Varr and Plaza Live because of increased fees.

    READ: Orlando local arts groups not happy about increased fees at Dr. Phillips Center

    Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said if groups can raise money on their own, then he feels they should get tourism dollars to go with it.

    Demings said both the venues and the arts groups like this approach. 

    "This is a balanced approach to ensuring that we create incentives for our various arts groups to be able to operate and present their various shows," Demings said.

    Demings wants to give the arts and cultural affairs $2 million more tourism tax dollars on top of the $5.6 million it already gets. Demings said $500,000 of it would go to a facility rental and event fund.

    "This fund would be open to all arts groups and to all facilities," said the mayor’s chief of staff, Roseann Harrington.

    Some local groups, like the Orlando Ballet, are struggling with rising rental costs and fees to perform at places like the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center.

    The new fund would allow those groups to apply for assistance. 

    If approved, groups could receive tourism dollars matching what they are able to raise on their own.

    “I believe for the foreseeable future, this solves the challenges that they were experiencing," Demings said.

    READ: Document reveals proposed performance rates at Dr. Phillips Center's Steinmetz Hall

    Demings said the cost of doing business continues to increase, but he believes this will help stabilize it.

    In regard to the fund, Orlando Ballet said in a statement: “The county, city, tourism industry, Mayor Demings and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer are wonderful supporters of the cultural arts and we are grateful for everything they have done for Orlando Ballet and the cultural arts in general.  We are always grateful for additional support and look forward to learning about the application process.”

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