The Palm Coast Arts Foundation, the organization envisioning an ambitious, multi-stage, multi-purpose arts, entertainment and conference center in the city’s Town Center, came under more criticism this morning from the Tourist Development Council for what members of the council see as the foundation’s lack of accountability. The foundation has been assailed previously by members of the council for having clearer ambitions than business plans.
Sam Perkovich, the foundation’s relatively new president who’s making it her mission to transforming the organization “from a club to a business,” said the criticism was misplaced. “If we had $2 million they’d think differently of us right now. We need to do our homework and raise the money,” Perkovich said.
- Read the Disavowal Letter from Daytona State
- Read the Tourist Council’s Request to the County Commission
- Tourism Panel Clears Half-Step Toward Palm Coast Arts Foundation Center, But Questions Persist
- Arts Foundation’s Music in the Air All Weekend
Tourist council members agreed to transmit to the county commission a request for a $50,000 feasibility study for a conference center and banquet center in Palm Coast, in line with the arts foundation’s plans to build that center. The council has $50,000 budgeted for such a study, but hopes the project won’t cost more than $30,000.
The center is the brainchild of the foundation, which wanted to move ahead with the project possibly with tourist development dollars. That plan was derailed when the council, which invited the foundation to present its action plan, questioned the foundation’s own feasibility documents and financial foundation. The tourism council would itself lead the way for a study, on its own terms, assuming the county commission approves it.
“This is one of the problems why we didn’t want to partner with them at this point in time,” Pamela Walker, who heads the council’s convention center feasibility committee, said of the foundation in a meeting of the council Wednesday morning. “They didn’t come up with any substantial numbers, or at least verifiable numbers, and at this point in time there’s too many inherent problems with that group, so therefore we just felt it was best to strike out on our own because of the letter I mentioned from Daytona Beach Community College also disavowing any involvement with that group.”
The letter from Michael Avery, a Daytona State College professor (who happens to be on vacation until mid-August) raises serious questions about the foundation, which, Walker said, had relied on numbers provided by the college—namely, a student project approximating a feasibility study and done through the college—for numbers the foundation provided the council when it sought government funding earlier this summer.
In a strongly worded June 21 email to Sam Perkovich, president of the arts foundation, Avery refers to requests to him to “alter financial projections” recently developed through the project he supervised. “Any alteration, change or adaptation of any element of that report is expressly forbidden,” Avery wrote Perkovich. “Neither I, the student team, nor Daytona State College will authorize any alteration to course materials. We will not be associated with anyone else’s projections.”
Perkovich clarified Wednesday: “The college did a business plan for us, and we said when we were at the very first meeting”—with the tourist council committee—“that there was a lot of feasibility type stuff information there that we would extract from there, and that’s what we did. Dr. Avery got the impression that were re-writing his business plan, which we were not. It was later clarified for him, and he understood, and the provost actually called me and made sure we were OK.” The numbers were not changed nor the business plan re-written, Perkovich said, though material was extracted from the plan.
In the end, who conducts the feasibility study for a conference center is irrelevant. What matters is the result of that study: Is a conference center viable or not? In that sense, the tourist council’s plan remains aligned with the arts foundation’s as a “common interest,” Perkovich said.