Seven Matthews nonprofits will share $70,000 in grants aimed to bring tourists to town.
Of the seven, only two groups received the full amount of funding requested from the Town of Matthews. A total of $129,000 was requested by the organizations. The money for the grants comes from the town’s tourism fund – revenue from hotel and motel occupancy and prepared-food and beverage taxes.
The Matthews Chamber of Commerce received its requested $11,500 for Artfest and the Auto Reunion, $9,000 and $2,500 respectively. Matthews Alive! received its requested $14,000 for the annual Matthews Alive! festival.
The other five organizations were granted amounts that fell short of their requests.
The Matthews Historical Foundation requested $3,000 for a “Meet Me in Matthews” 1900s day, and will be given $2,000 if the organization can include local retailers and restaurants in the event.
The Matthews Playhouse requested $35,000 and was granted $29,000 for their ongoing theatre program. The Matthews Rotary Club wanted $7,500 to fund their fall festival and chili cook off, but were given $3,500. The Matthews Woman’s Club asked the town for $3,000 for the annual Victorian Teas fundraiser and were given $1,000. The largest difference was with the Matthews Athletic and Recreation Association’s request for $55,000 to provide for concession area and building improvements, a girl’s softball field and practice space. But they’ll get just $9,000 — $46,000 less than requested but $500 more than what the group received last year.
This year’s grants were awarded following a new process that used volunteers – not town staff – to recommend grant amounts. Matthews commissioners approved their recommendations, without discussion, Monday, Aug. 27.
Representatives of the organizations met individually with the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department Advisory Committee. A subcommittee gathered data, requests were discussed and then recommendations were made to the advisory board as a whole on Aug. 8. After the presentation and discussion, the committee endorsed the recommendations unanimously, according to a memo to town commissioners.
Matthews Playhouse Artistic Director June Bayless said the $29,000 grant the Playhouse received was the most the organization has ever been granted from the town.
“We were thrilled and elated with the amount,” she said. “It was wonderful and it will allow us to move forward with everything we’re working on.”
Bayless said the money will go toward the Playhouse’s production of “A White Christmas,” which will debut Friday, Nov. 30 and run until Sunday, Dec. 16 at the Matthews Community Center.
The Playhouse rents the theatre space from the town, and Bayless said much of the funds they use will go back to the town since their supplies for costumes, sets and props are often purchased locally.
“We definitely give back to the community with our productions,” Bayless said. “And we attract people to area restaurants and shopping.”
Bayless said the Playhouse wouldn’t be able to put on such a large production without the help of funding from the town.
“We would never be able to do this without the help from the town,” Bayless said. “It’s one of the biggest productions we’ve ever done. We’re so thankful to the town.”