ROSWELL, Ga. — Roswell’s relationship with the arts community came into question again at the regularly scheduled Dec. 10 City Council meeting.
The city signed a memorandum of understanding to coordinate with the Roswell Arts Fund in developing plans for cultural arts, but the agreement didn’t happen without some difficulty.
The item originally was placed on the consent agenda, which is usually approved at the beginning of the meeting without discussion. But it was moved to the regular agenda.
The memorandum allows the Roswell Arts Fund, a nonprofit that advocates for the arts in the city, to work with the City of Roswell for the “Imagine Roswell Arts and Culture 2030 Plan” and the “Public Arts Master Plan.” To help accomplish the initiatives, the city will grant the Roswell Arts Fund $290,000 to be used for needs such as operational support, the Performance Space Feasibility Study, the Sculpture Tour, and marketing and outreach.
Resident Janet Russell told the council she had was concerned about giving so much money to the organization, how that money is used and the lack of public discussion with the organization.
“I don’t ever see any public inquiries from that group about wanting people in this city to participate in decision-making or events,” Russell said. “I’m real concerned about that. We have a history of external partners that grab us, and we keep pouring money into them.”
Roswell Arts Fund Board Member Don Horton addressed some of Russell’s questions and how the organization invites public input.
“We list the goals and objectives each year and present the list to City Council prior to the budget meetings,” Horton said. “If council takes the time to read the materials, you will understand what our goals and objectives are, where we’ve spent the money, how we’ve spent the money, and so on… It’s not that it’s not transparent. It’s all there for everybody to see.”
This is not the first time the Roswell Arts Fund has come under scrutiny at a City Council meeting.
When officials reviewed the budget for fiscal year 2019, Councilman Marcelo Zapata voted against several items that would add $174,000 in support of the city’s partner organizations such as the Roswell Arts Fund, the Roswell Historic Beautification Project and Roswell Inc.
He said at the time that he wanted more accountability and transparency from the Roswell Arts Fund and that he wanted to see more participation from the city on the organization’s board of directors.
Those additions ultimately passed at the second budget reading with a unanimous vote.
Mayor Lori Henry pointed out at the Dec. 10 meeting that several points in the agreement require the Roswell Arts Fund to provide a budget narrative, five-year financial plan and annual financial reports.
The agreement passed 5-1, with Zapata opposed.
For more information about the Roswell Arts Fund, its meetings and processes, visit roswellartsfund.org.
In other action at the meeting, the Roswell City Council:
- Approved a $182,000 contract for the Norcross Culvert Replacement Project.
- Approved a $596,000 T-SPLOST budget amendment for Rucker Road construction.