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Council chooses recipients of cultural grants

Public art pieces and summer festivals likely will take home some of the biggest cultural grants from the city in the coming fiscal year.

Naperville city councilmen gave preliminary approval this week to doling out about $2.5 million in Special Events and Cultural Amenities grants after reviewing 89 applications totaling over $3.4 million.

The grants are funded through the city’s 1 percent food and beverage tax. Prior to council discussion, applications are reviewed by the Advisory Cultural Commission.

A chunk of the money goes to the city itself including $600,000 for the Millennium Carillon loan, $140,000 for the DuPage Children’s Museum debt service and $134,163 for the city and park district to perform Riverwalk maintenance.

The Exchange Club of Naperville is slated to get just under $207,000 in grant money for Ribfest while the Jaycees will get roughly $163,000 for Last Fling. Much of  that money goes toward city services for the events.

Councilmen spent time Monday debating public art requests from the Naperville Heritage Society, which wants to erect a statue of city founder Joseph Naper and Century Walk Corp., which was looking to fund a handful of items including a third Dr. Seuss-themed sculpture as well as student-painted murals in the Van Buren parking garage.

Century Walk President W. Brand Bobosky pleaded his case to the council.

“We’re not desperate for the funds we just believe we’re entitled to them and we have good projects, we’ve done good work, and we should not bear the cost of the new Joe Naper,” he said.

Councilman Grant Wehrli took issue with the idea of SECA grants being seen as entitlements and said he’s like to see a Naper statue.

“We’re talking about a statue for the founding father of Naperville, a guy that really goes unrecognized other than everybody saying the word Naperville,” Wehrli said. “Now we have the place for it up here at his original homestead.”

Councilmen agreed to use some of the SECA fund’s reserves, which would allow it to allocate $175,000 for the Naper statue and $150,000 for Century Walk projects.

The council also discussed Monday whether groups that aren’t based in Naperville should get funding. Members ultimately agreed having an address outside the city shouldn’t disqualify an applicant.

“I think one of the things we should look at here and what the purpose of this fund was, is what culture event does that bring to the citizens here in Naperville,” Councilman Doug Krause said. “That should be the first priority.”

Councilmen will take a final vote on the SECA grant allocations this spring.

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