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Heart of Danville trying to revive itself from economic, pandemic impacts

The Heart of Danville is looking for ways to jolt its own heartbeat back into rhythm from effects of the COVID-19 pandemic that’s wreaked havoc on its budget and downtown activities so far this year.

Not only has membership dropped off, Danville City Commission cut the Heart’s funding for next fiscal year down to $25,000 from last year’s $55,000 amount, according to the organization’s proposed 2020-2021 proposed budget.

Also, it hasn’t been able to host spring and summer events such as the St. Paddy’s Day Pub Crawl, Main Street Live concerts, Lawn Chair Theater, and the collaboration of Soul of 2nd Street Festival, just to name a few.

Plans for Trick or Treat on Main, the Christmas parade and holiday shopping promotions are being considered, but nothing can be definitely scheduled because of the uncertain future of the pandemic, said the Heart’s Executive Director Dustin Duvall.

To have a balanced budget even after making cuts, HOD needs to come up with $16,000 to $17,000 more in revenue, according to Terry Dachenhous, treasurer for the organization. The funds could come from additional sponsorships, memberships and fundraisers in hopes of reinstating many of the downtown events that have been cancelled or may be cancelled because of the pandemic, he added.

“Due to COVID-19, we are not sure how our business and citizen support will be, so we are just planning to make whatever cuts need to be made to help downtown Danville businesses and economy the best we can with the funds that we will receive in 2020-2021,” Duvall said.

One way to save money that the board is discussing is not continuing to lease office space in Constitution Square, said board chair Valery McMann during the Heart’s meeting on Thursday. This measure could save about $6,000, she said.

Instead of working from an office to promote the downtown area, Duval could take his laptop and cellphone and work from several downtown locations, McMann suggested.

In an email Duvall said, “We love our office space at Constitution Square and the historical landmark that it presents, but if we can’t afford it, we can’t afford it.”

The HOD will also have a unique fundraiser, “Armchair Telethon” which is set for early August to help the Heart meet its budget needs.

The “telethon” will be held for eight hours and will live stream on Facebook Live and Youtube, Duval said.

“ While this may be a new concept, we hope that the innovative, creative concept will help to garner the following:

  • Increase in funding for our organization and its programming for FY 2020-2021
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Networking with community leaders
  • New potential donors
  • More exposure to the community about our mission, vision, and goals
  • Massive social media potential
  • Proper social distancing during the current health climate

 

McMann described the event to be similar to the old Jerry Lewis telethons for Muscular Dystrophy, in the fact that live local performers will provide the entertainment and folks watching can simply call in and make a donation.

She said they are currently recruiting performers to fill 10-minute slots for the eight-hour telethon.

They’re also checking into the possibility that any individual, organization, business and/or industry would be interested in sponsoring an hour of the program. She said sponsors would gain “positive publicity” while supporting the HOD’s programing for the upcoming fiscal year.

In addition to finding more revenue, the HOD needs more community members to volunteer for any of its four committees:

  • Economic Vitality -Focuses on capital, incentives and other economic tools to assist new and existing businesses and property development
  • Design – Supports enhancing the physical and visual elements that set the downtown district apart from other towns
  • Promotion – Works to make the downtown area the center of the community and hub of economic activity
  • Organization – Involves creating a strong foundation for a sustainable revitalization effort, including developing partnerships, community involvement and resources for the district

To find out more about volunteer opportunities with the Heart of Danville’s committees or about the telethon, contact Dustin Duvall at director@downtowndanville.com, or call (859) 236-2361.