A&P Commission accepting event promotion applications

Application period closes Dec. 29

The El Dorado Advertising and Promotion Commission has set a deadline to submit funding requests to help promote events and attractions that are scheduled for 2024 in El Dorado.

The group has also issued "another gentle reminder" about the guidelines and procedures for the application process and funding awards.

The A&P commission will accept requests for proposals (RFPs) until Dec. 29.

On Wednesday, commissioners scheduled a meeting for Jan. 8 to prepare the 2024 A&P budget, sift through applications and allow applicants the opportunity to provide additional information or comments and answer any questions that may arise about their RFPs.

The A&P commission will then reconvene on Jan. 22 to approve and announce funding awards.

Don Hale -- president of the Diamond Agency, the ad agency of record for the A&P commission -- suggested that commissioners clarify the process by which they will consider applications and which of the pair of meetings applicants should attend in January.

"Last year, it seemed like you had half of the groups show up during the first meeting and several show up during the last meeting," said Hale.

"It would probably be good to clarify for those seeking funding if they need to come prepared to make a proposal or how you plan to review those," he continued.

Commissioner and A&P chairman Don Miller said the group will set the 2024 budget before considering RFPs.

The A&P budget contains a short list of line items, one of which is dedicated to funding RFPs.

Other line items include administration, non-designated and advertising and marketing services provided by the Diamond Agency.

For the 2023 budget, the A&P commission approved a total budget of $565,250, $366,445 of which was set aside for RFPs that were submitted by several groups, including El Dorado Festivals and Events/MAD; Lions Club Municipal Golf Course; Main Street El Dorado; the Mayhaw Festival; Mr. Mike's Productions; the South Arkansas Arts Center; South Arkansas Symphony Orchestra; Murphy USA Classic; Downtown Business Association; The Diamond Agency; and the SouthArk Outdoor Expo.

Some groups -- such as the Downtown Business Association, Main Street El Dorado, the Murphy Arts District (MAD) and the South Arkansas Symphony Orchestra -- seek A&P funding to help promote several events they have planned throughout the year.

A couple of specialized line items that are a part of the 2023 A&P budget will not be a consideration in 2024.

For instance, the A&P commission approved $60,000 for the city to host the 49th annual Arkansas Governor's Conference on Tourism.

The AGCT was held Feb. 26 - 28, with El Dorado serving as the host city for the first time.

Commissioner Dianne Hammond, also an El Dorado City Council member, said applicants should plan to attend the meeting on Jan. 8 when A&P commissioners review the RFPs.

The commission formed an ad hoc budget committee to begin 2024 budget preparations. Commissioners Dianne Hammond, Kelli Harrison and Alan Meadows will serve on the committee.

"Typically, we like to have three of our commissioners sit on that to formulate where we are from a financial perspective and what we want to budget; make sure we understand our prior commitments; and also be thinking about sustainability," Miller explained.

He advised the committee to meet within the next 30 days and asked that the commission remind groups who customarily request funding from the A&P about the RFP deadline.

Other event-holders are also encouraged to submit an RFP.

Hammond also issued a reminder that groups who receive A&P funding must present a post-event/evaluation report to the commission, adding that many groups do not adhere to the guideline.

The application lists the guidelines and criteria for RFPs.

"If you haven't given a report to the A&P, it has to be done because that's part of the guidelines to receive money for the following year," she said.

Miller said commissioners discussed the matter during the last A&P meeting in September.

"So, again, another gentle reminder, if you will. If you're planning on asking for ... support from the commission, you need to comply with the rules," said Miller.

The Jan. 8 meeting will be the A&P commission's first regular meeting of the year and the meeting on Jan. 22 will serve as a specially-called meeting.

The group revised its regular meeting schedule to 1:30 p.m. the first Monday of every other month, starting in January.

Following the special meeting on Jan. 22, the group is expected to convene in regular session on March 4.

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