Arts district amendment signed into law

Missouri Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe signs Senate Bill 397 on Monday at the Spiva Center for the Arts in Joplin, with (from left) state Sen. Bill White, Rep. Lane Roberts, and Connect2Culture principals Clifford Wert and Sharon Beshore looking on. The state legislation gives Joplin until 2026 to form an arts district downtown. GLOBE | ROGER NOMER

A law that extends the time for Joplin to create a museum and cultural arts district was signed into law Monday by Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe.

A bill signing ceremony, rather than being conducted at the state Capitol, was held at the Spiva Center for the Arts in Joplin.

Kehoe was empowered by Gov. Mike Parson to do so because Parson is out of the country on a trade mission and vacation.

The state's museum and culture district law was originally passed in 1998, but in 2013 it was amended at the request of Joplin to allow the formation of a cultural arts district downtown within five years if city and civic leaders chose to do so.

Earlier this year, close to meeting a fundraising goal to build the Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex downtown, members of the local community arts organization, Connect2Culture, and the strategic planning organization Vision Joplin 2022 asked city leaders to pursue a change in the law to give Joplin another chance.

The law signed into law Monday was amended in the last session of the Legislature to give Joplin until 2026 to form an arts district.

"What Connect2Culture is already doing, what the Harry Cornell Arts & Entertainment Center will bring to this area, what it does for business recruitment, is gives this area an advantage that other areas will not have," Kehoe told a crowd of C2C and museum supporters, local legislators and city officials at the signing ceremony.

He endorsed comments made by Toby Teeter, president of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, that communities that invest in the arts win the attraction of business and workforce talent above other communities. "The business community fuels the arts, but arts fuel business," Teeter said.

Mayor Gary Shaw described the ceremony setting as "a room filled with servers" who continue to build a successful Joplin.

Kehoe and C2C President Clifford Wert commended the work of state Sen. Bill White and state Rep. Lane Roberts to get the law changed through "clean bills," meaning that there were no amendments to them. Kehoe said that took a lot of work.

The Joplin City Council recently approved a resolution requested by photographer and downtown art gallery owner Linda Teeter that supports the formation of the Joplin Arts District downtown.

To form a district under the law, a petition must be filed in Jasper County Circuit Court to do so. If the petition is approved, a board of trustees is elected by property owners in the district.

The board then can levy a sales tax of a half-cent up to 1 cent within the district boundaries that goes to an arts and museum trust fund to be used for the purpose stated by the board.

Or the board can raise funds for arts and museum activities by assessing a ticket surcharge of up to $1 to admissions.

Linda Teeter said Monday the Joplin Arts District encompasses 56 blocks and the funding language in the law could fund arts within the Joplin Arts District.

An arts group is being put together to design a logo for the district that could be used to promote the district and its businesses, she said. The headquarters for the Joplin Arts District will be at her gallery, the Urban Art Gallery, 511 Main St.

"We have the designation, now we have to make the destination," she said of the arts district.