It happens every year. Representatives from different organizations go before the Tourism and Recreation board and make their pitch for a share of grant money. From the High School Rodeo Club to the Silver State Classic, each organization has to make a presentation or they aren’t able to take advantage of money generated by the room tax.
But there is only so much the board can give to each group as part of their “Aid to Organizations.” This year, Ed Spear said the board has a budget of almost $50,000 to disperse between the groups, but their total requests come out to almost $90,000. It’s a problem the board faces each year, and according to Spear, there is no set formula for how to determine who gets what.
“The process has always just been about the Tourism and Recreation board supporting organizations and volunteers that put on events in our community that bring in people from out of town,” Spear said.
According to board member Lorraine Clark, the number of people a particular event brings into town can influence the board’s decision on how much funding to give out.
“The money that goes into these grants comes from the room tax, so when we can use that to fund events that bring people into town and generate money for the room tax, it makes for a nice closed loop,” Clark said.
It’s a loop that has allowed the board to give out close to three quarters of a million dollars in the last 10 years. But Spear said that more goes into the decision process than just who will fill the most rooms in town.
“Some board members might have a passion for a particular event or group and some won’t, but in the end it always ends up as a pretty fair distribution of supporting long running events and new ones alike,” he said.
Clark agreed, adding that sometimes smaller local events can grow in size enough to earn the attention of the board as they begin to bring people in from out of town.
“The quilting guild here is a good example of a group that started with just local shows but they’ve grown big enough to really start to attract some people from outside the city to come visit,” she said.
Receiving the funding is not as simple as just cashing a check however. According to Clark, an organization is only approved for a certain amount of money and then is reimbursed for that amount after they provide invoices on what the money was spent on as well as paperwork pertaining to how well attended the event was. The board will announce the recipients of the grant money at their next meeting on April 23 at 10 a.m. inside the Bristlecone Convention Center.