Last night, in yet another straw vote, the Columbia Association Board of Directors reversed a decision made on Tuesday night and restored full funding for the 2010 Columbia Festival of the Arts. The $95,000 contribution represents 14% of the total festival budget and is largely used to fund the free three day LakeFest in Town Center.
Why the sudden turn around?
I wish I knew that answer. This board, like many CA boards of the past few years, can’t seem to come together on anything of significance unless it reaches crisis mode. Shit, they can’t even agree on insignificant things either. Take the whole gym towel thing for example.
From my perspective there appears to be four members who have difficulty playing well with the others. They are Cynthia Coyle of Harpers Choice and Phil Kirsch of Wilde Lake, Alex Hekimian of Oakland Mills and Russell Swatek of Long Reach. I’m not going to get into any name calling or questioning of any individuals motives here. I just happen to think that they are profoundly ineffectual board members.
The one thing these four do appear to have in common is a tendency to see well established community organizations like the Columbia Foundation, the Columbia Festival of the Arts, and Leadership Howard County as somehow being elitist. They seem to see these organizations as somehow being a threat to what they call Columbia’s “vision”. Ironically, these organizations all have solid boards that consistently produce positive outcomes, whether it be staging a world class summer arts festival or providing grants and support to meet specific community needs.
For now, the arts festival has been spared and that’s a good thing. It also indicates that perhaps those other six board members may have found that, though they may not always agree on everything, at least they know how to play together.
UPDATE: From The Sun website:
"An article in Wednesday's editions on the Columbia Association's budget deliberations incorrectly described preliminary cuts to a $260,000 community grants budget. While the Columbia Festival of the Arts has received annual grants from the community fund, no decisions have been made on what the festival will receive this year. The association has discussed reducing the overall community fund, but decisions on individual recipients are to be made by the association president."