Fayetteville A&P puts cash and faith in artist collective

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 134 views 

FAYETTEVILLE — The Fayetteville Advertising and Promotions Commission is not ready to pull the plug on the Fayetteville Art Alliance, a group that grew from the defunct Fayetteville Underground.

The commission is moving forward, however, without Ron Bumpass.

The commission once had an agreement with Bumpass to lease and eventually buy the Old Post Office building in the middle of the Fayetteville Square. The commission agreed to pay $1 million; Bumpass wanted $1.5 million. The commission’s last offer was $730,000, the value given the building during a recent appraisal paid for by the A&P.

The group also hired a law firm to reach out to Bumpass, but all efforts have been futile.

“I think that project’s finally dead,” the commission's executive director, Marilyn Heifner, said at commission meeting at the Fayetteville Town Center on Monday (May 14). The commission will settle with the lawyers and call it good. All told, the broken deal cost the A&P $3,500.

The commission had planned to house the Fayetteville Art Alliance in the old post office. The group has been homeless since losing its lease for gallery and studio space at East Square Plaza, which faces the city’s square. 

On Monday, the A&P committed $55,000 to help renovate space and cover a six-month lease on the ground floor of another building on the square, 101 W. Mountain St.

Artist Hank Kaminsky, loosely representing the artists, said  the group would contact the building’s owner to try to negotiate a lease this week.

The A&P commission is charged with spending tax money collected from a special tax levied on hotel, motel and restaurant (HMR) receipts. The money is then to be spent on festivals and other special events that “put heads on beds,” or bring visitors and dollars to the city, Heifner said.

Going into Monday’s meeting, the commission had $300,000 worth of funding requests but only $159,000 to give away.

The Fayetteville Art Alliance nabbed roughly one-third of the money available. The alliance had asked for $60,000.

"The art alliance offers us the opportunity to be the art city destination that we want to become," Heifner said.

Other groups with sizable allowances were $15,000 for the Walton Arts Center’s Artosphere, $20,000 for the Fayetteville Roots Festival, $20,000 for the premiere gala for Up Among These Hills (Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Larry Foley’s deep history of Fayetteville) and $15,000 for the Lights of the Ozarks Christmas light display on the square.

The rest of the requests granted ranged in size from $500 to $10,000 each.