Paragould’s Advertising and Promotion Commission approved a record seven grant applications at its meeting this week. In addition, the commission approved nearly the full total amount requested.

The commission approved a grant to Main Street Paragould for $6,000 for its Downtown After Hours events, which take place the second Friday of each month in the Downtown area from June through August. The event, which features live outdoor music and extended business hours, draws an estimated 1,500 people, including an estimated 150 from out of town, to the downtown area. “The businesses love it,” said Main Street Paragould Assistant Executive Director Miranda Reynolds in making the presentation to the commission.

The funded amount, which was what Main Street Paragould had requested, represents 53 percent of the expected total cost to the group. Commission Chair Jeremy Biggs had said requesting organizations should not expect the commission to bear the total expense of whatever event, capital improvement project, etc., for which a given group is seeking funds.

The commission also approved a grant request from Main Street Paragould for $7,200 (the full amount sought) to help fund its 15th Art and Stroll event in the downtown area on Aug. 21. The event features artists and their work as well as music, food, dance and theatrical performances, and entertainment for children. The amount requested is 46 percent of the expected total expense to Main Street Paragould. “We will also be holding a Friday night gala,” said Main Street Paragould Executive Director Gina Jarrett.

Paragould American Taekwondo Association (ATA) Martial Arts saw its request for $8,000 (67 percent of the total expected budget) approved for its second annual Powerhouse Regional Tournament on Dec. 4. ATA owner Theresa Anderson, in her presentation, said last February’s event, also funded in part by the commission, was a great success. Figures she presented to the commission indicated 652 people had attended that event, and that an estimated 57 percent of attendees had traveled at least 50 miles to attend (and would thus be likely to stay overnight).

The commission also approved all of an $8,250 annual request from not-for-profit Jonesboro radio station KASU to help fund its 11 monthly Bluegrass Monday concerts at the Collins Theatre. The funding, to be paid quarterly, will run through next June.

“We want to attract big name artists,” said station programming director Marty Scarborough in explaining the need for the amount. An estimated 75 percent of attendees of Blue Grass Monday come from out of town. The event is in its 22nd year, of which the last 15 have been in Paragould. An estimated 300-541 people are expected to attend Blue Grass Monday, which takes place the fourth Monday of each month except December.

The Collins Theatre Foundation received all of its requested $10,000 (74 percent of the total anticipated budget) for Rent: The Musical, to be performed over two weekends, Oct.14-17 and Oct. 21-24. According to information provided to the commission by theater operations manager Joy Robinson, the A&P funds will cover the costs of royalties and Music Theater International fees, as well as theater rental.

“This musical has never been performed by a local theater in the state to date,” Robinson told the commission. She said she expected it would attract patrons from as far away as Memphis and Little Rock.

And the commission approved all of a $5,100 request (47 percent of the total budgeted amount) from the Greene County Fine Arts Council to help it fund production of the musical Cabaret in the Collins on Sept. 9. The costs are to pay for licensure of the show and to pay musicians.

“We chose Cabaret because it’s never been done here [in Paragould],” said Council president Jeremiah Allen. “And we are looking for a big draw. COVID hit the theater hard, and it shut us down – we were ‘dark.’”

Finally, the commission approved $7,800 out of a requested $10,000 from the Smoking Skulls Motorcycle Club for its annual Ride for Knowledge Aug. 21 to raise funds for the Paragould School District.

The total expenditure commitment by the commission comes to $52,350 out of $54,550 requested. Based on stated needs of applicants, however, not all the requested funds are necessarily to be paid out immediately. The Advertising and Promotion Commission receives its funding exclusively from a 3 percent sales tax levied on overnight lodgings in town.

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