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A&P commission approves funding requests for 2019 events

Posted on January 18, 2019

By Tia Lyons
Staff Writer

With an increase in lodging tax revenues in 2018, the El Dorado Advertising and Promotion Commission doled out $160,000 Tuesday in funding requests for the new year.

Eleven organizations received a piece of the $160,000 pie, representing a boost of $20,000 over the amount that was dedicated to requests for proposals last year.

Each year, the A&P commission builds into is budget a category for RFPs to help local groups promote events that are scheduled in El Dorado throughout the year.

The applications come with a set of guidelines, policies and procedures that groups must follow in order to be considered for A&P funding.

For instance, an event must be advertised within a radius of at least 50 miles to attract out-of-town visitors and generate overnight stays.

The A&P commission draws its income from a 3 percent lodging tax on local hotels and motels.

During a meeting on Jan. 8, commissioners approved an overall 2019 budget of $285,000, up by $25,000 from last year.

Prior to sifting through 2019 RFPs, the A&P commission committed $35,000 to continue production of the El Dorado Insider, a quarterly visitors/tourism magazine that highlights the people, places and events in the city.

The magazine is produced by the Diamond Agency, the commission’s ad agency of record.

Carol McDade, managing director and publisher for the Diamond Agency, requested the $35,000 in November.

Following a lengthy discussion, the commission approved the amount to fund the El Dorado Insider for two more years.

The A&P commission helped launch the Insider, formerly known as the El Dorado Insider’s Guide, in 2013 and has financially supported its publication ever since.

McDade told commissioners in November that the A&P contributes 29 percent of the magazine’s $112,000 budget.

The A&P vote in November was 5-2, with commissioners Sanjay Patel and Judy Ward voting ‘no’ on the two-year contract with the Insider.

In addition to the $160,000 for funding requests and $35,000 for the Insider, the remainder of the 2019 A&P budget includes $60,000 for the Diamond Agency ad budget; $10,000 for administrative costs; and $20,000 for a non-designated line item.

On Jan. 8, Patel, A&P treasurer, said the ND line item was increased by $5,000 this year to better assist the commission should unexpected opportunities arise later in the year.

For example, in November 2018, commissioners approved a $3,500 request to assist Main Street El Dorado in joining a mobile app, Distrx, that is designed for Main Street cities across the country to provide location-based services for local businesses and attractions and notify users of any special offers, sales or promotions that participating businesses may offer.

Eleven groups received A&P funding to promote events this year. They include:

• Murphy Arts District, $85,000

• Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout, $17,000

• South Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, $15,000

• Main Street El Dorado, $15,000

• Boomtown Opry, $7,500

• Union County Quilt Show, $5,000

• Murphy USA Classic, $4,000

• SouthArk Outdoor Expo, $3,000

• Downtown Business Association, $3,000

• El Dorado South Arkansas Coin and Currency Show, $2,500

The coin show was introduced last April and drew a crowd of 350, including vendors and attendees from around the region.

Flurry of activity

Bob Tarren, chief marketing officer for MAD, who received more than half of the A&P commission’s RFP budget, said the arts and entertainment district has started 2019 with a flurry of activity.

Concerts featuring country and rap music headliners Frank Foster and Lil Boosie are set for tonight and Saturday, respectively, in the First Financial Music Hall.

The Southern Food and Wine Festival will return in May, Tarren said, adding that other events will continue in 2019, including Thursday Night Live shows, MAD Movie Monday and the reopening of the water features at the MAD Playscape.

For Thursday Night Live, Tarren said MAD is expanding its reach into Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi to pull in more regional talent.

He also reported that plans are under way for the Summer Concert Series in partnership with Main Street El Dorado and Murphy USA.

The event is paired each year with Showdown at Sunset, a long running reenactment of the Tucker-Parnell family feud that escalated into a gunfight and left three people dead in downtown city streets in the early 1900s.

The reenactment serves as the lead-in for the musical performances. The SCS is held the fourth Saturday in June, July and August.

MusicFest 2019 is set for Sept. 27 and 28.

The event is another partnership between Main Street, who launched MusicFest 32-years ago, and MAD.

Main Street focuses on the “festival” portion of the event, while MAD books the headliners.

“The major concerts are still in development for MusicFest,” Tarren said, adding that MAD is working with promoters and booking agents all over the country to book headlining acts.

Last week, Main Street discussed the date and preliminary plans for MusicFest.

Tarren said he wanted to make sure to get the word out to local hotels and motels so they can be prepared for the late September event and visitors that MAD and Main Street hope to bring to town.

A quarterly music series is also in the development stages at MAD, Tarren said.

“We hope to launch our first collaboration with the Crystal Bridges Museum (of Modern Art in Bentonville) with a fun, family-friendly exhibition in the first quarter of 2020,” he told A&P commissioners.

Tia Lyons may be contacted at 870-862-6611 or by email at