CMA’s ambitious proposal to build a downtown aquarium requires up to $160.5 million in funding. The puzzle contains multiple pieces, and each piece is critical:
- Private donors: $25 – 55 M
- Corporate: $10 – 30 M
- Government: $35 – 60 M
- Grants: $5 – 10 M
- Banks: $60 – 80 M
- Current facility revenue: $15 – 20 M
Total needed: $160.5 million.
CMA is confident they can raise the necessary funds. Others have said that it’s a herculean task in the face of today’s economic realities.
Last week Ruth Eckerd laid off 13 staff members. CEO Zev Buffman explained: “Just as all non-profit performing arts organizations around the country, we rely heavily on the kindness of private and corporate donations, as well as strong state and federal funding. These have all diminished as never before.” (Clearwater Patch, 9/17/13)
Given this state of affairs, local funding will be a primary focus of CMA’s funding plans. The following is a recap of the types of public funds that CMA will be seeking if the referendum passes.
But first, let’s clear up a couple of false rumors.
One rumor is that the City could end up on the hook for tens of millions of dollars if CMA defaults on its bank loans. This is not true. The City owns the land and the banks will own the building. CMA and the banks assume all the financial risk. In the event of default, any financial participation by the City would be at its own discretion.
Another false rumor is that CMA will not ask for any taxpayer money. Government funds ARE taxpayer’s money, and CMA expects government funding to provide a significant portion of the $160 million.
We can’t comment on the availability of federal and state funding because we aren’t fully familiar with the options, which might include various grants and tax credits. But Zev Buffman points out what we already know – these funds are disappearing fast. Sequestration has been a steamroller from which federal funding, and indirectly state funding, might never quite recover.
As for private and corporate donations, any non-profit organization can attest to the challenge of fundraising in today’s economic climate. CMA hopes to raise $35 to 85 million from corporations and private donors.
With all this in mind, CMA is actively targeting local public funding sources. There’s not a long list of possibilities. The following are the options that CMA is considering and not considering. Continue reading