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This blog includes news about City Hall, city schools and other 22401 news.

Pamela Gould reports on City Hall. You can reach her at 540-735-1972 or pgould@freelancestar.com. Robyn Sidersky reports on city schools. You can reach her at 540-374-5413 or rsidersky@freelancestar.com.

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LibertyTown receives $125,000 grant from EDA

Fredericksburg’s Economic Development Authority voted today to make a $25,000 annual grant for the next five years  to LibertyTown Arts Workshop.

The vote was taken after a closed session with LibertyTown owner Dan Finnegan to review the business’s financial records. Although the actual grant wasn’t talked about or publicly explained when the vote was taken at the meeting, Finnegan said in an interview afterward that this is a “sustaining grant,” or a grant meant to keep him in business.

Finnegan estimates that LibertyTown brings 2,000 to 3,000 people a month downtown, but “We have struggled to make that a really healthy financial business.”

Under the terms of a performance agreement that will govern the five-year grant, Finnegan must:

  • sign a new five-year lease with building owner Mary Weber Stoner Taylor, with an option to renew for another five years.
  • keep operating as a studio and retail outlet for around 50 artists.
  • meet with a representative of the Small Business Administration, Small Business Development Center or other qualified person to develop a business plan, which will be submitted to the EDA.
  • make an annual performance report to include annual financial statements, tax returns, a summary of the business’s operations for the prior year and a business plan update for the coming year; the EDA has agreed to keep all of Finnegan’s financial information confidential.
  • “take steps to enhance the profitability of the business.”
  • continue to participate in First Fridays.
  • submit an updated business plan at the end of the fourth year of the agreement, with financial projections for the next three years, and a plan for keeping the business going.
  • pay all city taxes.

This is part of the EDA’s JumpStart grant program, so it’s made from the fees private businesses pay to access tax-free bonds for which the EDA serves as a conduit, not from city tax dollars.

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/citybeat/2011/02/14/libertytown-recieves-125000-grant-from-eda/

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  • Rochester

    Another 125k down the drain, how about giving some of this fun money back to those you got it from in the first place?!

  • Buster

    Another giveaway, just what we need another junky “Art” gallery. When is this town gonna stop giving my hard earned money away to flea-bag “Galleries.”

  • George

    Have you BEEN to Libertytown? Junky? Flea-bag?

    Obviously not.

    Libertytown is the center of the city’s art scene , which is one of the vital qualities of a “city” instead of a “suburb” or “county”.

    Did you read the article?

    Again, obviously not.

    The last sentence of the article clearly states that the money did not come from city tax revenue, but from fees on private bonds that the city lends it’s tax-free status to through the EDA.

    I hope this gives Dan Finnegan the opprotunity to stake out a realizable vision for Libertytown.

  • Cassy Manning

    Maybe when you guys start contributing as much money to the City coffers as the so-called “flea-bag” Art Galleries do. I suspect the sales taxes these establishments pay the City are far greater than your individual contributions.

  • Mike

    Couldnd’t agree more with George. Places like Liberty Town are what make Fredericksburg a special place to live. I’m proud to be part of a community that supports the arts. Thank you Dan for creating and working so hard to maintain a hub for this city’s art community.

  • Dave

    The owner of Liberty Town says “We have struggled to make (Liberty Town) a really healthy financial business.” The reason why is the artwork is poor. No one wants to buy uncompelling artwork. Liberty Town is a great destination, a fun place to visit and walk around on a gallery opening on a First Night. The building is great. But, the artwork leaves a lot of be desired. There a handful of artists that are great. The majority of artists in there are not ready to be gallery artists. They have the money to secure a place each month, but not the talent to connect with a paying patronage. Bottom line: improve the artwork, Liberty Town will start to make money.

  • ed newell

    i am somewhere to the right of ghenghis khan usually but i can in this case see how a 100 bucks a week to liberty town is a decent investment . and i’m not the least bit artsy fartsy. i base my opinion strictly on what i see as liberty towns ability to draw folks into downtown to patronize all the other businesses, well at least the places that are open after 5 pm

  • JimmyDean

    Libertytown should be able to make it on its own or not at all. I dont need my “betters” deciding how to spend my hard earned money (EDA or otherwise) on some 2 bit starvin art gallery. Whats next a bowling alley, a saloon ? Become solvent by selling your art or go out of business, we dont need a city subsidy for this and similar unworthy projects!

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