The Special Events and Cultural Amenities Commission, or SECA, met last week for the first time in months. And while it’s normal for the commission to take a few months off after the year’s allocations are set, there’s more uncertainty than usual about where the commission stands.
Food and Beverage Tax
SECA draws its funding from a 1% citywide food and beverage tax. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, that tax revenue is expected to be much lower than projected at the start of the year. Receipts show the food and beverage fund recovering after a major dip from March through May, but it’s still not back to pre-pandemic levels.
“Right now, we are in a holding pattern to see where we’re at and what we have going on,” said SECA Commission Chair Melvin Kim.
The good news is SECA’s 2020 budget was largely unused due to the cancelation of events across the city. Kim said his understanding is that city council will have final say on what to do with unused money from canceled events. Normally, when events have underspend, that money isn’t available until two years later.
On August 18, the dais voted unanimously to allow the city to lift restrictions on the use of food and beverage tax revenue to provide more financial flexibility. The city could now potentially dip into that fund to pay for other city services.
Public Art Working Group
The other major talking point at the meeting was the creation of a Public Art Working Group. SECA has been discussing this since at least February, but the issue recently became a bit more prominent. In June, a petition was posted on Change.org highlighting the “Naperville Loves A Parade” mural, saying it lacked diversity.
“With the events of 2020, I think a lot of people have realized that public art is much more than just the placement of an art piece or the commissioning of something, but it really does reflect the culture and society that we are as the City of Naperville,” said Kim.
The SECA Commission approved putting out a Request for Information, which would allow public art experts to submit ideas for how they could help guide the working group.
“This is really early on in our understanding and we want to make sure we’re doing this right,” said Kim. “An RFI is really asking potential consultants, potential groups to help direct us and guide us on what we need to focus on. Once we figure that out… an RFP (Request for Proposal) to be more specific on what we’re looking for would go out.”
Lots of Unknowns
There are still a lot of questions about how the Public Art Working Group will be formed and what its responsibilities will be. Century Walk, which commissioned the “Naperville Loves a Parade Mural,” has been facilitating public art in Naperville since 1996. Kim said they’d likely be consulted when it comes to the creation of the working group.
Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.
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