Don’t fret on meal tax aid, Columbia arts groups told

tflach@thestate.comApril 9, 2013 

COLUMBIA, SC Arts groups shouldn’t worry about being shortchanged in aid from Columbia’s meal tax, two members of the panel that will recommend allocations said Tuesday.

The organizations are being “somewhat assured” that adding preservation of the historic Palmetto Compress warehouse won’t be at the detriment of dance, theater, music and other performing groups, new Hospitality Tax Advisory Committee member Lee Lumpkin, said.

She was among a new team named by City Council on Tuesday.

John Whitehead of the Columbia Music Festival Association, who was reappointed to the panel, said interest in support for the arts remains strong but competition means allotments may vary.

The 11-member panel, eight of whose members are new, will start reviewing 88 applications for aid shortly. Its recommendations go to council members for acceptance or modification.

“I need to make sure our voice is heard,” said Lumpkin, a retailer who is a leader of Columbia Classical Ballet. “So I always stay concerned.”

The aid comes from the 2 percent tax on restaurant dining, takeout food and snacks. It can only be used for events that attract tourism.

Other new members on the panel are restaurateurs Jimmy Williams, Terry Davis, Joseph Wales and Jesse Bullard along with business owners William Cantey and John Dozier. Cynthia Hardy and Whitehead were reappointed.

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