CVB revamps how local orgs seek funding

The Danville-Boyle County Convention and Visitors Bureau is changing how it handles requests for funding from community organizations and events in an effort to bring more fairness to the process.

“We want to reset everything and restart it so the process can be clear and fair going forward,” said Jennifer Kirchner, director of the CVB.

In recent years, once the CVB decided to provide some funding from its 3-percent room tax to a local organization or event, it would automatically continue giving that same amount each year. Now, the CVB will require new applications for funding every year, Kirchner said.

The application will require enough information that the CVB board will be able to make “sound judgments” about where funding should go, but not so much information that it would over-burden small organizations, Kirchner said. A “post-event follow-up” will also be required, and information from that will be used to better judge requests from the same entity in future years.

The CVB awarded $15,000 for these types of funding requests in the 2016-17 fiscal year; Kirchner said she expects the CVB to award as much if not more next fiscal year.

“We’ll decide that figure through the budget process and then we will start divvying up that money as applications come in throughout the year,” she said.

Organizations that have taken advantage of the CVB funds in the past include the Brass Band Festival, the Community Arts Center, the Bourbon Chase, Perryville Battlefield’s annual commemoration, Danville-Boyle County Parks & Recreation, the inaugural International Conductor’s Festival, the State BBQ Festival and others.

Kirchner said she expects to see more people seek the funding this coming fiscal year because the CVB has never promoted it publicly before.

“It’s always been, ‘well, if you know about it, then you could come’ (and request funds),” she said. “So it was a word of mouth thing, which didn’t feel right either.”

The CVB board approved the new rules for funding applications at its February meeting. The rules go into effect July 1 with the new fiscal year. At that point, the CVB will begin accepting applications for funding in the 2017-18 fiscal year. All applicants must submit their applications at least 90 days in advance of the date for the program they want to fund.

Kirchner said the CVB developed the new process after studying how many other CVBs around the state handle the same issue. The new rules are an “amalgam” of those other agencies’ strategies, and will need to be fine-tuned and altered as the CVB works with Danville and Boyle County organizations.

“We don’t know what we don’t know; this is a new process and protocol for us,” she said. “We expect this first year to learn some things — what’s working and what’s not working.”

Kirchner said she “would like to see the sponsorship grant program continue to grow” because it helps attracts visitors to the area and benefits the quality of life for locals.

One option for further expanding the program would be if the state legislature changed the laws to allow cities like Danville to institute a local restaurant sales tax and Danville took the opportunity.

“If the restaurant tax ever happened, this is an area that we would expand … pending board approval,” Kirchner said. “That would be my suggestion, that we take that money and reinvest it.”