By Jesse Wood
May 7, 2013. The Watauga County Board of Commissioners, on Tuesday morning, agreed to give $8,400 in “emergency funding” to Southern Appalachian Historical Association, so “Horn in the West,” the third oldest outdoor drama in the country, can open for its 62 year in a row.
In March, SAHA representatives went to the Boone Town Council to request $20,000. Katy Cook, a SAHA spokesman, said at the time the two primary factors leading to the financial difficulties were due to rainouts last season and the loss of a $5,000 N.C. Arts Council grant.
In April, the Boone Town Council voted to match $10,000 of donations if the Watauga County Board of Commissioners opted to rescind the sales tax switch. The commissioners did not, and now the Town of Boone will receive $2 million less in sales tax revenue. Watauga County is expected to receive in the neighborhood of $500,000 with the switch to an ad valorem sales-tax basis.
SAHA has raised more than $11,600 in the past month and needs $20,000 total for initial rehearsal expenses and such before the production begins June 28 and cash flow begins with ticket sales.
The $8,400 in funding from the commissioners nets SAHA the $20,000 total.
On Tuesday morning, Michelle Ligon, chair of SAHA, acknowledged the $12,000 of support that the Watauga County Board of Commissioners provides annually and said that in return, county residents receive a 50 percent discount during the opening and closing weekends.
After which, Commissioner Billy Kennedy, referring to Watauga’s 60-40 sales tax split with the towns of Blowing Rock, Seven Devils and Beech Mountain that leaves the Town of Boone with $2 million less revenue and other municipalities a surplus, suggested that SAHA request funds from Blowing Rock, Seven Devils and Beech Mountain town councils.
Commissioner Perry Yates, like he told High Country Press last week, commended Ligon for the recent fundraising successes and improvements in advertising but also noted that it was “convenient” of Boone to drop the emergency funding in the county’s lap with a contingency on the sales tax vote.
The commissioners unanimously voted for a “one-time shot in the arm” worth $8,400 to help SAHA fund initial operating expenses for the “Horn in the West” production.
Read this preview article about SAHA’s intent to request emergency funding from the Watauga County Board of Commissioners for more background info on this story: https://www.hcpress.com/news/horn-in-the-west-to-open-june-28-to-request-8400-from-watauga-commissioners-after-raising-11600.html