Recommended UFOC funding comes with stipulations

If the Cache County Council goes along with a committee’s recommendation, the Utah Festival Opera Company will receive $150,000 in RAPZ/Restaurant tax funding this year.The UFOC had originally asked for $400,000 in addition to the $255,000 it had already been allocated. Cache County Council Chairman Craig Peterson, who headed the committee, says the group got together several times. “We also met with the UFOC board and were given an opportunity to make sure that our findings were factually correct,” Peterson said. “I think we did a thorough investigation of UFOC’s financial circumstances and made a recommendation that reflected our findings. The committee was unanimous in its recommendation.” The allocation comes with several stipulations: the UFOC’s Board of Directors will be expanded to include one voting member designated by the county council; prior to disbursement of the $150,000 the UFOC will provide the council with a viable long-term financial plan, based on balanced budgets.It was also recommended that the UFOC establish a legally-restricted endowment fund to enhance long-term financial stability. Finally, UFOC will work with the Cache Valley Center for the Arts to determine how costs can be reduced by greater coordination of efforts including but not limited to consolidation of box office services, technical support and marketing. Peterson says the committee concluded the Utah Festival Opera had a direct and indirect economic impact of $4,536,000.Utah Festival Opera Company officials say, if the Cache County Council goes along with that committee recommendation, they will not be appealing for more.At a meeting on June 9th, founder and director Michael Ballam told the council that contributions have dried up in the recession to the point where this could be the company’s last season. Managing Director Gary Griffin says what Ballam meant was if the $400,000 wasn’t approved the UFOC would have to dip into what’s left of its endowment, and when that’s gone it would be the last season.”We were hoping to take that 150,000, if the county does approve it, and there’s a chance they won’t, and use that as a start to a campaign this summer to raise the rest of it,” Griffin said on KVNU’s Crosstalk Show. “We do need that money. We’re going to start asking our patrons in some special ways this summer during the festival to help us raise that money.” He said he has had mixed reactions and was hoping for the full amount. “But we understand that there is extensive talks with Lynn Lemon and Cole Peterson that the federal backing in the county is pretty much opposed to us. We had thought that we were more valued over the county than it appears that we are.”They are telling us that our contribution on an economic impact isn’t all that much, that public opinion is running against us about 10 to one. So, in light of that and the opinion held by the people of Cache Valley we were happy to get at least $150,000.” Griffin said raising the ticket price is not an option. He says already because of the downturn in the economy people are buying the cheaper tickets this year. He says, fortunately, 600 more tickets have been sold than last year at this time, but their overall financial figures are down, indicating that more people are buying the cheaper tickets. The season opens on July 8ith and runs through August 8th.

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