Jones House rental fees could increase
by Anna Oakes
The subject was among several discussed by the subcommittee of the Cultural Resources Board formed to review Jones House policies and procedures on Monday. The subcommittee is working to develop recommendations to be presented at the Sept. 10 Cultural Resources Board meeting.
The town-owned Jones House Cultural and Community Center, located on King Street in downtown in Boone, was built in 1908 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Until this spring, the town of Boone had contracted with the Watauga County Arts Council since the 1980s to manage the house in coordination with the now-dissolved Jones House Advisory Board.
The subcommittee reviewed the most recent schedule of rental fees for the facility approved by the Boone Town Council in 2007. Costs for renting the entire building ranged from $25 to $50, with staffing fees of $8 per hour. A cleaning service fee of at least $50 was also required, in addition to deposits for cleaning and alcohol.
“I don’t think we should make a lot of money, but we should cover the efforts,” said subcommittee member Cheryl Prisco, who researched fee schedules and polices at the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum and the Turchin Center.
Subcommittee members also agreed the town should halt the practice of fee waivers for nonprofits, which has been common in the past.
“That will be a change for a lot of them who were coming here,” said subcommittee member Trent Margrif, who previously served on the Jones House Advisory Board.
“I think we can come up with a fee structure that is comfortable for all nonprofits,” said Prisco. “I think we should be consistent.”
The subcommittee proposed that to serve alcohol at a private event, applicants must complete a new Alcohol Policy form signifying they accept full responsibility for obeying all federal and state laws and that a trained bartender will be the only one serving drinks.
The subcommittee requested that Boone Downtown Coordinator Pilar Fotta ask Town Manager Greg Young about how the town would compensate and budget for contracted staff to work private events.
“Without that, we can’t have rent(als),” said subcommittee member Julia Rechenbach-Moomaw.
Members agreed to a policy stating that Jones House events must end by 11 p.m. and the house must be secured and closed no later than midnight. Mark Freed, a former Arts Council employee who is contracting with the town of Boone, said some Thursday night music jams have lasted as late as 1 a.m., but subcommittee members agreed that 11 p.m. is late enough.
Rechenbach-Moomaw recommended that the two upstairs gallery rooms be renamed and to ask Mazie Jones Levenson for her suggestions. Levenson sold her family home to the town in 1983.
“We want her to understand the new board is really interested in preserving what’s important, which is the house,” said Fotta.
In accepting applications to exhibit in the Jones House’s three galleries, the subcommittee recommends that exhibitions not be limited to Watauga County artists only, which was the policy of the Arts Council.
Language in a proposed artist’s contract states that the artist should consider that the Jones House is a community center used for meetings, classes and other public uses and to keep that fact in mind with regard to safety and subject matter. The draft contract states that the board or cultural resources staff has the right to reject works that do not meet these criteria.
The subcommittee agreed to recommend that the Jones House take a 20 percent commission fee for all works sold in its galleries.
Jones House policies are not final until approved by the Cultural Resources Board and the Boone Town Council.