Fourteen nonprofits receive funding to promote cultural tourism

Part of that tax your friends and relatives pay when staying in a hotel or motel in Ingham County will go to encourage more friends and relatives to take in the area's arts and culture thanks to recent grants awarded to more than a dozen nonprofit organizations.
The Ingham County Hotel/Motel Funds for the Arts and Tourism awarded funding totaling $103,741.05 to 14 arts and cultural organizations to support the production of publicity and promotional materials used to attract out-of-town visitors. Awarded in mid-April, the total grant for 2015 was divided among the recipients and is administered by the Arts Council of Greater Lansing.
"We're proud to be handling the grant on behalf of the county," says Josh Holliday, program manager of the Arts Council of Greater Lansing. "We're happy to see the continued investment in a program that supports organizations who bring people into our community."
The Williamston Theatre was among the 2015 grant recipients, and will use the funds to expand their presence on NPR affiliates in surrounding counties.
"We're so grateful for the opportunity to be able to expand our presence on the radio," says Emily Sutton-Smith, development director for the Williamston Theatre. "A grant like this makes it possible for a small organization to do something that we wouldn't ordinarily be able to do. It makes a big difference for our marketing programs."
Sutton-Smith says that about 40 percent of people attending a show at the theatre come from outside of Williamston or Ingham County. That percent, she says, represents what marketers and developers refer to as "cultural tourism"—or people who travel to a destination for activities related to the visual or performing arts.
"Those individuals not only buy a matinee or evening ticket from us, but then they go on and spend money at a restaurant, hotel or retailer," says Sutton-Smith. "So by virtue of what we do, we draw in people who then benefit another business, too."
The Ingham County Hotel/Motel Funds for Arts and Tourism grants are supported by five percent of Ingham County hotel/motel revenues, and were established by a resolution by the Ingham County Board of Commissions about 20 years ago. Recipients of the 2015 grant are the Capital City Film Festival, Community Circle Players (Riverwalk Theatre), Downtown Lansing, Inc., East Lansing Art Festival, Happendance Inc., Impression 5 Science Center, Lansing Symphony Orchestra, Michigan Institute for Contemporary Art, MSU Community Music School, MSU Museum, Old Town Commercial Association, Summer Solstice Jazz Festival, Wharton Center for Performing Arts and Williamston Theatre.

Sources: Emily Sutton-Smith, Development Director, Williamston Theatre
Joshua Holliday, Program Manager, Arts Council of Greater Lansing
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
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