Alva Review-Courier -

WCIDA approves funding support request


October 4, 2019

Woods County Industrial Development Authority (WCIDA) members met Wednesday for a short special meeting regarding a request from Freedom West Community Development Corporation. Members Rick Cunningham, Randy McMurphy, Stan Kline and Connor Martin were present, along with Woods County Economic Development Committee's executive director Sonja Williams, to hear Dr. Kay Decker, Freedom West CDC's executive director, present her request for funding support.

Decker's appeal to WCIDA was for their assistance to the Public Art and Signage Committee in matching funds on a recent public art project that is set to be located on the north lawn of the Woods County Courthouse. The request for $8,000 would be to cover the funding gap after contributions from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Woods County commissioners, and the City of Alva Tourism Tax Committee. (The county is helping with concrete and curbing and plans to make a handicap-accessible ramp.)

The Public Art and Signage Program began in 2014 after Freedom West CDC secured funding and technical support from the Oklahoma Arts Council to perform a community-wide economic impact analysis of the value of the arts to the community's economic vitality and quality of life, Decker said. Over 171 community residents participated in a series of focus groups who articulated several goals – all to improve quality of life while increasing community visibility. Residents also hoped to increase tourism opportunities, sales tax collections and foot traffic downtown.

Decker said because of that goal articulation, many projects and programs have been initiated and completed with many more in the works, like that of the Courthouse Stage and Greenspace Improvement Project. She provided authority members an Art and Economic Development annual financial breakdown with data that showed how arts help support a community's economic vitality. In her handout, Decker said the public art and murals in the community are a signal to any visitor that the community understands the value of a healthy diversity within its boundaries.

"My simple question is, can we afford it?" McMurphy asked.

"I think we've got the funding for it, and we don't have any real big commitments right now where we need to hold back any funding," Cunningham responded. With that, McMurphy made the motion to approve the request for funding support. Stan Kline seconded the motion.


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