UPDATE: Fringe Festival responds to questions about bringing RedBall to Rochester
Rochester, N.Y. – The New York State government helps to fund projects across the state. More than 100 organizations and groups in the Finger Lakes region were awarded grants at the annual Regional Economic Councils Awards on Wednesday. One of the grants awarded is for a red ball, and some taxpayers are asking why.
The RedBall Project bills itself as the longest-running public street artwork project. The KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival is the organization awarded the $32,600 grant to help bring in the project to Rochester for the 2018 festival.
"Our board came up with this idea of bringing the RedBall to Rochester for Fringe next year. And we pitched it to the state as part of the funding application process, and we were thrilled to learn New York State Council of the Arts wants to partially fund it," said festival producer Erica Fee.
The grant will only pay for part of bill to bring the RedBall to Rochester. Fee said The Fringe, a non-profit, is looking for ways to cover the entire cost.
"The RedBall Project is an interesting one because the price is different based on what locations are chosen for it in the end," said Fee. "So we still need to work out all the permissions with the various locations where the RedBall would go, and that will determine the final price, and that will determine whether we can bring the RedBall to Rochester."
Some taxpayers who spoke with 13WHAM were a bit skeptical about state funds possibly being directed toward bringing the ball to Rochester.
“I think it's kind of weird they're using taxpayer money to pay for something that seems kind of extra,” said Eleni Gorla of Rochester.
Fellow taxpayer Sam, agreed. “It seems like a colossal waste of money," he said.
But Fee stresses this is more than just about bringing the RedBall to our area.
"Shows and events like these do generate a lot of income for downtown hotels, restaurants, hotels, parking – plus our venues, museums, et cetera," she said. "This absolutely does drive jobs and does generate income. The Rochester Fringe has been a huge economic driver for downtown. And projects like these draw people downtown, and we hope to keep them downtown."
"It’s more than just an inflatable ball," she added. "And we hope to be able to fully fund it and to then be able to announce it properly to the community."
The festival’s board will talk to the state to figure out if Fringe can fund the rest and make use of this grant. Organizers say this is a tenth of what they got last year from the state.
The grant is actually costing state taxpayers about .0016 of a cent.