Chattanooga, TN – During the Chattanooga City Council Meeting on December 1, the Council accepted calls from residents regarding a City Budget amendment for continued COVID-19 financial support of specific organizations.
The aim of the budget amendment is to allocate funds to assist in sectors most impacted by the virus.
Caller Marcus Ellsworth expressed concern that the new allocations are being given to places that have already received significant support and funding from other relief sources, grants and from donors.
He stated that other organizations and smaller businesses in the arts community, specifically, are still struggling and being forced to shut down.
Ellsworth asked, “if there could be a process where they could appeal or apply for access to some of these funds to broaden the scope of the impact where these relief funds could go out into the community?”
District 6 Councilwoman Carol Berz replied, “We actually discussed that earlier today. Looking at different parameters. Thank you for bringing that up. That is great input for our deliberations.”
Brody Crowder chimed in to back up Ellsworth’s statements.
“I’ve seen proposals for the Tivoli Theater and the Bessie Smith Center. Instead of these lump sums going to them, there should be a better process for groups and non-profits to apply for these funds instead. I think they (the funds) will be better utilized and we’d all have a better idea of how that money is going to be used,” Crowder said.
The Tivoli is currently slated to receive an additional $225,000 and the Bessie Smith Cultural Center an additional $40,000.
The Vice-Chairman of the Tivoli Foundation, Andy Muldoon, called in to say, “We very much appreciate being a part of this resolution for continued support. We have spent a lot of time with the foundation, with our three magnificent theaters, that support a lot of community efforts working through this horrific period we are involved in. It is critical for us to keep the Tivoli open so there is sense of urgency to your continued support.”
Terry Roberts, who works security for the Tivoli Foundation called in to express the need for continued support for the Tivoli.
“There are a lot of people that are employed (by the Tivoli). It’s about 580 people employed by the Tivoli Foundation to bring in entertainment and we need to keep it afloat. I think it is very beneficial for the community to continue to be able to produce and have the shows come to Chattanooga.”
Co-Founder and Executive Director of RISE Chattanooga, Shane Morrow, called in with a differing perspective.
“I have made the conscious decision today to not accept any funds for my non-profit in regard to the programs and services that we offer because I feel that this is the opportunity right now to do what’s best for our community,” Morrow stated.
“Help the immediate needs of our struggling community. For folks that are going through the transitions of the new infections with COVID down to the individuals who are being deprived right now of a simple meal,” Morrow said, ” These are the immediate things our community needs.”
Morrow closed with the statement, “Please direct your dollars to what is needed first. The other programs and services for the agencies can wait until another time. Direct your energy toward the people that need it the most.”