Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Renaissance is bouncing back; annual membership meeting brings encouraging reports, new ideas

By Tiffany Broughton
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Midway Renaissance has come through conflict and a two-year lull but the civic group “is alive and well,” President Jim Wombles said at its annual membership meeting Monday night.

The organization has money in the bank, regular committee meetings, ideas for 2016 and a new contract with Midway University for their Francisco’s Farm Art Festival to stay on campus through May 2019.

In 2011, the festival was relocated to Equus Run Vineyeards, which displeased merchants because it would reduce business during that weekend. This was a result of Midway University’s previous administration declining to sign a long-term contract in 2008. That came on top of conflict with the previous city administration.

The festival returned to the campus in 2014 and will be held on May 21 and 22 this year.  Under the new contract, Renaissance will pay the university $5,000 annually and keep the rest of the proceeds from the event.

Renaissance Treasurer Leslie Penn reported that the festival account has $13,971.72, the general account $5,934.69 and the GreenSpace account $3,255.14.

The top of the web page for the annual arts festival
Volunteers will be needed to make the festival a success, Wombles said. The festival committee meets the first Wednesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at the university’s Anne Hart Raymond Center. The Renaissance board meets there at 7 p.m. on second Wednesdays.

Wombles announced that Renaissance is now eligible for federal contracts and grants, and board members have $1 million in liability insurance.

He said that when the group met last year on March 30, it had not filed taxes in two years and risked losing its federal tax exemption. The members elected a board and formed committees that have been meeting regularly. Wombles thanked Penn for her help on the tax exemption, which he said “was not easy.”

The Renaissance board is looking to form other committees and ways of fundraising to continue to make the festival and its GreenSpace efforts successes.

Wombles said he board would like to add four members so not all members’ three-year terms expire at the same time. After three members declined nomination, Katie Vandegrift accepted and was elected. She is the wife of Mayor Grayson Vandegrift.

Besides her, Penn and Wombles, the other board members are Kim Skeeter, Kenny Smith, John Holloway, John Maybriar, Jo Blease, Debra Shockley, Joy Arnold and Dee Dee Roach. The board is still looking for three more members.

Wombles said Renaissance needs to focus its efforts on the arts, even if it costs a little money. "Any success that we have had has to do with art," he said. "We have an opportunity to build on the arts."

Kenny Smith, owner of Kennydid Gallery, introduced an idea for public art. He displayed a poster-size photo of a mural in Wilmington, Ohio, that had been seen by Peggy Angel, owner of Steppin’ Out Boutique. Smith said it would be great to have something similar in Midway to help attract tourists. He said he has talked to building owners and has discussed a potential location of City Hall facing Winter Street.
Kenny Smith showed a photo of the Ohio mural as Jim Wombles and other Renaissance members watched.
Smith said the Board of Architectural Review for the Midway Historic District told him that a mural would be approved as long as it is not on the front of the building, has no advertising and has historic qualities.

"I spoke to the artist who did the mural in Wilmington and he charges $50 per square foot, so it will cost some money," said Smith. "We will have to plan for maintenance as well. We have to make sure 
we have enough money to maintain it after it is done."

The group also discussed old ideas, such as creating a trail across the creek leading to Northside Drive and finding money to pay a Main Street manager; and new ones, such as jam sessions that will be held on Sundays starting in May, as well as youth nights and a car show.

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