MATTHEWS – The town has awarded $83,000 in grants to six nonprofits hosting events that will help boost tourism.
Town commissioners awarded $40,850 to Matthews Playhouse, $16,900 to the Charlotte Junior Rugby Association, $11,950 to the Matthews Chamber of Commerce, $7,500 to the Special Olympics, $4,000 to the Charlotte City Ballet, $1,800 to the Matthews Kiwanis Club during their Oct. 28 meeting.
Grants are funded through hotel occupancy and prepared food and drink taxes. The Matthews Parks, Recreation & Cultural Resource Advisory Committee reviews applications and brings recommendations for commissioners to approve.
The Charlotte Junior Rugby Association turned its application in after the Oct. 1 grant deadline, prompting discussion among commissioners Oct. 28 about whether approving their grant request would set some sort of precedent for the future.
Commissioner Chris Melton called for his colleagues to show some mercy.
“This group is led by volunteers who have full-time jobs and get paid to do something else,” Melton said. “Most of the seven people on this dais have done the same thing, so I get having other priorities. I would reemphasize next year that we will not accept late applications.”
Commissioners unanimously approved the recommendations from the recreation advisory committee, except they shaved $100 off the Charlotte Junior Rugby Association’s allocation to fully fund the Special Olympics North Carolina’s request.
Melton reminded colleagues that the town attorney has told them the board does not set precedent and that each case is an individual case.
Here’s a look at how each organization plans to spend its grant, according to their grant applications:
• The Matthews Playhouse will promote upcoming productions, such as “It’s A Wonderful Life,” “Pinocchio,” “Mamma Mia” and “Guys & Dolls.” It offered 11 productions, 77 performances, 44 camps, 15 classes and 18 special events during 2018-19
• The Charlotte Junior Rugby Association has traditionally used five fields at the Matthews Sportsplex for its Carolina Ruggerfest but will expand to use all 11 fields and the stadium March 7 and 8. The event attracts teams from 15 states and Canada. Organizers are removing the cap on teams this year and expect more than 120 to participate.
• The Matthews Chamber of Commerce will use the grant to promote the ArtWalk & MusicFest, Matthews Auto Reunion and Motorcycle Show, and the Healthy Living Expo. These events collectively attract about 10,000 attendees annually.
• Special Olympics North Carolina sought the grant for a fall tournament featuring more than 1,200 athletes from nearly 65 counties on Nov. 1 to 3. The kickoff was scheduled for Nov. 1 at the Matthews Sportsplex. Last year’s event saw 491 room nights booked at six hotels in Matthews. It has agreed to host the tournament in the area for the next three years.
• Charlotte City Ballet, which features dancers ages 13 to 18, will perform shows at the Matthews Community Center: Prelude to the Holidays on Nov. 9 and a spring show on May 2. Last year, it performed for the Brace Family YMCA Preschool Academy and gave free tickets to the Matthews HELP Center, three preschools and a home-school consortium.
• The Matthews Kiwanis Club will use its grant to pay for law enforcement, public works and emergency medical personnel costs associated with its Labor Day 5K Race, held in conjunction with Matthews Alive. The club has not had to pay these fees in the past and considered discontinuing the event if it did not receive the grant.