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Boone Town Council Offers Arts Council 3-Month Jones House Extension; Council Member Calls it “Draconian”

By Jesse Wood

April 19, 2012. Two weeks after creating a Cultural Resources Board, which would absorb duties presently conducted by the Watauga Arts Council, and two weeks after essentially kicking the Watauga Arts Council out of the Jones House effective July 1, the Boone Town Council approved a motion to offer the Arts Council a three-month extension to stay in the Jones House and continue providing its cultural activities through September 30.

The offer originally was approved to expire on Monday, April 30, but after a break during the council meeting the board reconsidered and changed the expiration date to May 15.

The motion passed 4-1, with only Council Member Allan Scherlen, who called the language of the agreement “draconian,” dissenting. The “draconian” part of the agreement stated that “Arts Council shall not cancel any events which have been scheduled for the property during the term,” and “shall not move any events planned or scheduled for the property during the time period through September 30, 2012, to another location.”

Town Attorney Sam Furgiuele, who noted that if Arts Council doesn’t accept the offer that the town would cut funds for the management of the downtown cultural center earlier than previously expected, said he wrote the document in such a way because he had heard discussions that the Arts Council “might move events to another location.”

Watauga Arts Council’s Concerts on the Lawn ends on September 21.

Council Members Jamie Leigh and Lynne Mason both agreed that if this extension isn’t going to be extended after September 30, then the board needs to let the Watauga Arts Council know in a “timely manner.”

“They need to know one way or the other,” Leigh said.

Mason added, “I don’t want it to be a short notice thing because they’ve maintained some good gallery exhibits … it’s only fair to give them time to make arrangements. We need to communicate that clearly to them … we need to give them ample time.”

Also, the Town Council adopted two resolutions brought to the board by Council Member Rennie Brantz. The first motion stated that the council supports current cultural activities such as Concerts on the Lawn, the Thursday night old-time jams, art exhibits and other events which have been sponsored by the Watauga Arts Council for years “beyond September 30, 2012, to reassure the community that we are very much interested in continuing in continuing cultural activities at the Jones House,” Brentz said.

He continued, “We have a long, long record of great accomplishments and want to be sure that the community knows that we intend at all possible to continue these activities that have been successful in the past.”

The second motion, which passed unanimously, moved to create an “adhoc council committee to work out details” to began “organizing and preparing groundwork” for the Cultural Resources Board. The four members appointed to the committee were Furgiuele, Town Manager Greg Young, and Leigh and Brantz.

View last week’s article on Watauga Arts Council/Boone Town Council fiasco: www.hcpress.com/news/from-20-minute-babble-over-copier-in-the-jones-house-to-wac-finding-new-home-after-20-years.html