Donations sought for lodging mural artists

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 25, 2003

[9/25/03]The committee that spearheaded the painting of murals on the floodwall at City Front Wednesday asked the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau for help in providing food and lodging for the artists when in town.

Nellie Caldwell, chairman of the Vicksburg Riverfront Murals Committee, made the request during the meeting of the VCVB board, saying the committee was asking the bureau to provide $2,500 per spring and fall painting session, or $5,000 a year.

She said the convention and visitors bureau in Paducah, Ky., provides the same amount to house artist Robert Dafford and his team, the same group that paints the Vicksburg murals.

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“We are having great difficulty this fall in providing the required lodging for the October painting session,” Caldwell said in a letter to the board.

In the past, she said, some local hotels and bed and breakfast inns, as well as some owners of apartments, have provided lodging, but only when there are vacancies.

Caldwell said the five completed murals have already become a tourist attraction and will be an even greater attraction to bring visitors to downtown Vicksburg when they finally cover the entire flood wall facing Levee Street. Because of that, she said the committee believed the contribution fit in with the bureau’s mission to promote tourism.

VCVB Chairman Eric Biedenharn told Caldwell the board would consider her request.

In reporting on the activities of the Vicksburg Warren County Community Alliance, board member Bobby Bailess, also an Alliance board member, made a motion that the board participate in the Tourism Council along with the Vicksburg Convention Center, museums, Riverfest committee, the planners of the spring and fall Pilgrimage, the Vicksburg National Military Park and the other local attractions.

The council is part of a restructuring of the Alliance that includes councils themed for quality of life, commerce and retail, industry and government issues.

The motion produced the first vote in which Lamar Roberts, the director of the Vicksburg Battlefield Museum who was appointed to the VCVB board earlier this month by the Warren County Board of Supervisors, participated.

Roberts said he did not understand the role of the Alliance, a self-formed promotional group that meets, has hired a director and plans a capital campaign. “Why spend extra money for this thing?” Roberts said. “Every time this comes up I’m going to vote nay until you show me where’s the benefit.”

When Biedenharn called for a vote on the motion for the VCVB to participate in the Tourism Council, the vote was seven members voting in favor and Roberts casting the lone vote against it. The motion didn’t include any allocation or money.

In other business, the board heard a report from Lynn Foley, director of tourism and films, that the August check from the state Tax Commission amounted to $69,052, up $77 from August 2002.

The board also voted to donate some broken office equipment to Jackson State University for use in a program in which students repair broken equipment. The equipment is then given to charities and the board specified its donated machines should come back to Vicksburg charities.

The VCVB is a city-county agency, created by state law to promote tourism. It is funded with a 1 percent sales tax collected on rooms rented by the night and tabs at bars and larger eating places.