Arts Center Seed Money Denied

BERLIN- The nascent Berlin Performing Arts Center (BPAC) will have to look elsewhere for seed money, after the Worcester County Commissioners this week declined to assign the $200,000 requested to the project.

BPAC supporters had hoped to use the money from the county to get work begun on the $2.5 million project.

“It’s not going to make or break the project. It just would have enabled us to build it at the least expensive time,” said Patti Miller, Chair of the BPAC Research Committee. “It’s taken years and years of research and evolution to this point. The timing was wrong for them with budget restraints, and their fear of adding anything new to the budget.”

The commissioners made their decision on the performing arts center funding during budget deliberations on Wednesday.

“Things were just very, very tight,” said Commissioner Louise Gulyas of the county’s budget situation.

The commissioners have been saying for months that they would not fund new programs, and they stuck to that principle this week during budget deliberations. Although the commissioners support the concept, and in fact have wanted to pursue it for a decade, they decided against giving BPAC even a small amount of seed funds.

“The money is just not there. We had no frills,” Gulyas said.

Commission president Virgil Shockley agreed there was just no room in the budget for the project this year. “You have a limited amount of money and limited choices,” he said.

If timing is everything, than it wasn’t in the cards for the BPAC seed money this year “Everyone thought it was a great idea. It’s something we really need in Worcester County,” said Commissioner Bud Church. “We didn’t have any extra money. It just really wasn’t the year to give them anything.”

There was no money set aside for the performing arts center, Shockley said, but there was also no money put aside for the north end senior center, for example, or a sewer line to Showell Elementary School, despite the age of its septic system.

Miller said the project is still on track despite the delay. “It’s going to move forward,” she said. “There are way too many people in the community who would like that space to work out of or who would like that asset in our community.”

The BPAC organizers will regroup and explore other funding options like grants, other local governments, and private fundraising.   

“It’s destined to be part of our community eventually,” Miller said. “We’re optimistic. We have nothing but time.”