Tourism Bureau: Arts grant gets ax

DULUTH - Tourism officials cut a $100,000 grant to the Strength in Arts Coalition in 2009 to match a lower revenue estimate for the Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau.

In the 2009 budget approved by the tourism board Wednesday, the expected revenues were set at $2,109,000.

"We have to really watch what's going on with this economy," GCVB manager Preston Williams said. "It's probably the most unpredictable economy that you are ever going to see. It's going to be a challenge for the CVB and the Gwinnett Center to be on top of it and reactive when we need to be."

Joey Dennis, who runs the Gwinnett Center, said officials in the tourism industry say they are amazed at the amount of business the center is generating, but he said shows aren't selling out as quickly as they have before.

"Our ticket sales are reflecting it," Dennis said, adding that artists are beginning to consider lowering ticket prices. "They'll find a way to make it affordable for people, somehow. ... We can count our blessings in this economy."

Richard Tucker, the board's chairman, said officials could reconsider the money for the coalition next year, based on revenues.