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Advertising and Promotion request deadline Jan. 17

by Tia Lyons | November 28, 2022 at 12:00 a.m.

Any groups who are looking for assistance to help promote local events in 2023 have until Jan. 13 to submit funding requests to the El Dorado Advertising and Promotion Commission.

Commissioners set the deadline during a regular meeting earlier this month, noting that they can also use the application period as an opportunity to remind groups who receive funding from the A&P that they are required to provide a post-evaluation report for events that are supported by the commission.

On Nov. 9, Commissioner Don Miller issued his own reminder, saying that the group is moving into its budgeting and "funding season."

Each year, the A&P commission accepts requests for proposals to help advertise and promote local events that are scheduled throughout the respective year.

The commission financially supports annual events, including MusicFest, the SouthArk Outdoor Expo, Mad on Ice, the Murphy USA Classic, downtown holiday events and more.

Commissioners also encourage groups and individuals to submit RFPs for new events or existing events that have not previously been funded by the A&P.

The group solicits RFPs, sifts through the applications to determine if they are eligible for funding and votes on an amount to dole out to each RFP that is approved.

City Clerk Heather McVay said she typically sends out notifications about the opening of the application period by the end of November and she distributes packets of applications to commissioners a week prior their first regular meeting of the year.

Commissioner Don Miller suggested that the group meet Jan. 11 to set the 2023 budget. Commissioners also agreed reconvene Jan. 25 to consider RFPs.

McVay said annual notifications that are sent out to groups who submit RFPs each year include the guidelines they must follow when accepting funding from the A&P commission to help promote events.

One of those terms calls for a follow-up report on the events and commissioners have said few groups honor the guideline.

Organizers of the SouthArk Outdoor Expo are among the groups who consistently present a post-evaluation report each year.

Commissioners heard a report from Cynthia Reyna, executive director of the South Arkansas Community College Foundation, Inc., for the 2022 event, which was held Sept. 10.

The expo serves as a fundraiser for scholarships that are awarded to SouthArk students, via the foundation.

With help from the A&P, Reyna said advertising and promotion of the event reaches nearly 500,000 people within a 150-mile radius.

"We cannot do our marketing and advertising and public relations without your help and as a result, we cannot be as successful, we cannot provide a fun, family environment and we cannot provide some of our profits to go to student education itself," Reyna told commissioners.

"We believe we had the most successful outdoor expo ever," she added.

Reyna reported that 22 of 34 teams who entered the expo's rib cook-off were from out of town and more than 300 entries were submitted for a student art competition.

Reyna said crowds throughout the day were sizable.

Organizers do not have a count for attendees because admission is free for the expo, making attendance difficult to track, she said.

Referring to 2023 budget considerations, A&P Commissioner and Mayor-elect Paul Choate said the 2023 Arkansas Governor's Conference on Tourism should be part of the conversation.

The conference will be held in El Dorado Feb. 26 - 28, marking the first time the city will host the conference.

Choate said he has heard estimated costs of $60,000 - $65,000 to present the AGCT.

"And with inflation the way it is, you may be having to ratchet that up another 10 to 15 percent," he said.

He suggested that the conference be treated as a separate line item in the A&P budget.

"You may want to fund it out of excess revenue, which we do have," Choate said.

Miller called the conference "an extraordinary event."

Choate agreed, saying, "It is that and it's really going to give the city an opportunity to showcase."

The AGCT is expected to draw at least 350 - 400 people from around Arkansas and neighboring states.

Beth Brumley, executive director of Main Street El Dorado, noted that The Haywood El Dorado, Tapestry Collection by Hilton, is already booked solid for the conference and she has been receiving calls from around the state "with people asking, 'Where can I stay?'"

Brumley serves on a local committee that is helping to coordinate the conference, working alongside A&P commissioners Member Dianne Hammond and Maria Simpson and others.

Simpson manages The Haywood El Dorado hotel.

Hammond, also a member of the El Dorado City Council, reported that the committee is tying up loose ends and has sent a list of local restaurants to the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, who selects caterers for the AGCT.

Hammond also said Greg Withrow, a Main Street El Dorado board member and community volunteer, is arranging transportation for attendees during their stay in El Dorado.

In other business, the A&P commission elected new officers for 2023, selecting Miller as chairman and Commissioner Alan Meadows and Simpson as vice chairman and treasurer, respectively.

Print Headline: Advertising and Promotion request deadline Jan. 17

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