Project: Save the Venice Circus Arena
Updated: 10/13/2010 05:34:43AM Share By KIM COOL, Features Editor
By a unanimous vote, members of Venice City Council voiced their approval for the plan presented by Dave Sherman, Dan Ionescu and Karen Dove on behalf of the Venice Circus Arts Foundation.
Dove said that within the past six months the group created a strategic plan, formulated a mission statement and created a vision that includes a three-year operating budget, but no capital funds at this time.
Two grants totaling $55,000 for operating expenses have been applied for, and Dove expects to hear shortly about those. Under the auspices of Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice, Circus Arts Foundation members are taking training to be better board members and some 250 volunteers are endeavoring to maintain the Circus Arena following the cleanup earlier this year.
“We raised $20,000 the past six months and we don’t even have a campaign,” Dove said.
“We need to develop a plan with benchmarks. We have identified $1.6 million in potential grants. There are 385 local foundations and many private donors. As of today we have 2,667 fans on our Facebook page.”
Dove said one of those fans (from Switzerland) donated $1,000 and someone in Afghanistan collected $400 and sent it to the foundation.
“We need a lease from city council to move forward,” she said. “We have to have a commitment. We want to bring in another 100 volunteers and will be doing events all year beginning this weekend at the Sun Fiesta.”
Ionescu, the project’s architect, spoke of the need to raise some $1.5 million ultimately for property improvements.
“If we raise $500,000 the first year, I would consider it successful,” he said. “It will be a gradual process of reconstruction and repair. Bringing back the arena is not a small part of the master plan, which involves the urban integration of the site with the city and intragovernmental agencies.”
City Manager Isaac Turner said it would be impossible to come up with a lease immediately because of the legal aspects of its creation as well as the necessary negotiations with the Federal Aviation Administration, but added that an appraiser is currently working on the property. A letter of intent could be drafted rather quickly and that could help them.
Council members were unanimous in voicing approval for such a letter and for the work done by the Circus Arts Foundation.
“You exceeded my expectations,” John Moore said as he praised the “grassroots movement by concerned citizens,” but he then citied the Lord-Higel House and its fundraising problems as a cautionary note.
Emilio Carlesimo said he hoped that when such an agreement would be drafted that the circus group would get the maximum amount of time to achieve its goal.
In other business, several ordinances were passed unanimously by council, including adoption of a remedial amendment to the city’s comprehensive plan that will be discussed at a Wednesday meeting of the county commissioners because of common interests in some aspects such as roads within the city and which entity will be responsible for their repair and maintenance.
The meeting adjourned at 4 p.m. for a private attorney-client session involving litigation strategy concerning Demitri Serianni v. the city of Venice.
Original article may be seen at: http://www.yoursun.com/sunnews/venice/1596914-350/sunnewspaperscouncilcheersoncircusgroup.html.csp