The Dunwoody Convention and Visitors Bureau is promoting events and organizations for the city’s inaugural Arts & Culture Month throughout October.

A $20,000 marketing budget for the month-long event is one of the first expenditures using a new revenue stream created when the city raised its hotel-motel tax last year.

Katie Williams, executive director of the Dunwoody Convention and Visitors Bureau. (Special)

CVB Executive Director Katie Williams said the idea for the Arts & Culture Month came about earlier this year when city officials began talking to residents about an Arts and Culture Master Plan.

“Ideas were flowing from our partners,” Williams said. And because October is also National Arts and Humanities Month, the time was right to start a new arts tradition in Dunwoody, she said.

Williams said the Arts and Culture Month is starting small by not creating new events during October and rather promoting events the organizations already had planned. But the intent is to create a sizable, annual regional attraction similar to the city’s popular Restaurant Week, she said.

A website for the month is at dunwoodyacm.com.

The events include a Novo Cucina wine tasting featuring food pairings and a live classical music performance at the Donaldson-Bannister Farm hosted by the Dunwoody Preservation Trust; Found Stages Wine and Reading Series, a series of new plays by nationally known playwrights including a meet-and-greet with complimentary wine and light bites, hosted by the Dunwoody Nature Center; and a performance of a children’s play “The Ugly Duckling” hosted by the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta.

The CVB will provide Atlanta “media influencers” — people who have established followings on social media — free tickets to these events and ask for promotion, Williams said.

The media influencers can also receive a free credit for dining at a local restaurant, but they do not receive a cash payment, she added.

The city estimated bringing in an additional $1.7 million when it approved raising its hotel-motel tax specifically to fund green space and trail projects in Perimeter Center. State law requires half the money, or about $850,000, to go to the CVB to be used for marketing and tourism promotion.

The City Council also decided to set aside 15 percent of the new revenue in a “Tourism Facility Fund” to fund projects at the Nature Center and Donaldson-Bannister Farm.

Executives with those organizations argued for a slice of the hotel-motel tax revenue pie because they said their nonprofits regularly bring people from the region into Dunwoody.

The 2018 CVB budget is $1.7 million. Williams said two of Perimeter Center’s largest hotels — the Crowne Plaza Atlanta Perimeter Center at Ravinia and Atlanta Marriott Perimeter Center — are undergoing major renovations this summer, including a complete closure of the Crowne Ravinia for a few weeks.

With major blocks of rooms being closed, it is hard to gauge what the new hotel-motel tax revenue will be at the end of the year, she said. Economic Development Director Michael Starling said in August the city had collected about $407,000 in new hotel-motel tax.

At the Sept. 11 City Council meeting, Bill Baker, general manager of Perimeter Mall and CVB board member, said the CVB was forced to use more than $100,000 of its surplus due to the hotel renovations and unexpected closure of Crowne Plaza, reducing the total surplus from $218,000 to about $100,000.

He added the CVB is undertaking a three-year strategic plan for a project list to brand and promote in Perimeter Center using the new hotel-motel tax money.

Williams told the council that when the hotels are back operating at full capacity and with the Super Bowl coming to Atlanta next year, hotel-motel tax revenue is expected to pick back up significantly. Using the surplus was expected, she added, because the CVB was aware of planned hotel renovations.

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