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Bossier City settles on Arts Council as new events manager for East Bank

The plaza at the East Bank District in downtown Bossier City. (courtesy photo)

The Bossier City Council has made a decision to have the Bossier Arts Council (BAC) serve as the events manager for the East Bank District.

Yesterday, the council approved the first reading of an ordinance that would appropriate $25,000 to fund the hiring of a new BAC employee and provide for promotional efforts for the district.

Bossier City CAO Pam Glorioso told the council at its June 26 agenda meeting that Robin Jones, director of BAC, told Glorioso she was incapable of being effective with current funding. BAC funding was cut several years ago during budgeting processes.

Glorioso had originally planned to hire an outside company with an annual contract of $50,000, so the $25,000 will cover efforts for the remainder of 2018.

The opportunity arose out of an East Bank merchants meeting held June 21 at Retro 521 coffee shop. Glorioso, Mayor Lo Walker, and Councilman Tommy Harvey attended the meeting, which revolved around finding a manager for the district.

“They are anxious to get something started in that area just as we all are. Clarity came when the Arts Council said they would be willing to work as that agent we’ve all been looking for,” Glorioso said.

BAC will act as coordinator — such as issuing applications, giving event organizers a list of production companies contracting for what is needed for events — while being the city’s “eyes on the ground.”

“They would assure police protection, insurance certificates and cleanup for each event,” Glorioso told the council last week. “We want to make sure the city is protected. We are an open door if we don’t have any activity and guard down there.”

The $25,000 will come from the General Fund.

Harvey asked the council to amend the ordinance to include two items in relation to scope of services.

“June 28, I met with Robin Jones. We went over the scope of services in depth, and there were two items we agreed on. One, the Bossier Arts Council will produce and manage all appropriate venue and plaza agreements. Second, Bossier Arts Council will negotiate all agreements with all users of venue and plaza,” said Harvey. “It’s not clear where they are (in the ordinance), I want to make sure they add it.”

The council also voted to amend the ordinance to include the East Bank Plaza Oversight Committee, consisting of council members who would be made aware of efforts in the district.

“We have an oversight committee in place currently, since we’re going to have the scope of services implemented, that committee would remain active,” councilman Jeff Darby explained.

The decision closes the book on six months of searching for a manager who satisfied all the desires of the parties involved.

The Bossier City Council voted down the first reading to hire one of two potential event management companies at its June 5 meeting. Two ordinances on the agenda would have hired either Gumbeaux Productions for one year at $67,000 or CSC Productions for $108,000.

The council debated having event management companies schedule events with city personnel, even suggesting Bossier Civic Center employees act as event manager. Walker told the council there were no current employees with the ability or expertise, and that a solution was needed “as soon as feasible” because the city is “not utilizing that area to its potential.”

“We need to quit sucking the bullet and bite it,” Walker said during a council agenda meeting in June.

Earlier this year, council members defeated a proposed ordinance that would have allowed the city to enter into an agreement with Gumbeaux Event Productions to manage festivals and events in the East Bank District and Festival Plaza. The council then requested RFPs (request for proposals) to formally approve a company that would handle all aspects of events and promotions for the district.

That move followed a decision late last year to defeat a proposed city ordinance that would have allowed open containers in a designated area that included the new East Bank District, the Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets, and Margaritaville Resort and Casino.

That ordinance was eventually changed and reintroduced in January to establish the Festival Plaza Region. The region includes Barksdale Boulevard from Mansfield Street to Minden Street. The ordinance also amended the city’s public drinking law to allow people to drink from designated containers within the Festival Plaza Region.

This open container provision was then put in doubt after the city was made aware the Bureau of Alcohol and Tobacco Control prohibits restaurants from serving alcohol in open containers. Thanks to efforts from State Sen. Barrow Peacock, discussions between ATC and the Louisiana Restaurant Association resolved the issue.

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Sean Green is managing editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune.