An Appeal to Those Who Value ZORA! Festival
Your Investment Will Help Us to Continue the Legacy
Every year, since 1990, the Association to Preserve the Eatonville Community, Inc. (P.E.C.) has presented the Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities (ZORA! Festival) in Eatonville, Florida, our nation’s oldest incorporated African American municipality.
P.E.C. was established in 1987 in response to a “road improvement project” which would have destroyed the historic Eatonville community. Because of P.E.C.’s persistence, East Kennedy Boulevard remains a small, 2-lane street today instead of the proposed 5-lane thoroughfare which would have gutted the town. ZORA! Festival is the direct result of P.E.C.’s effort to ensure that the historic Eatonville community assumes its rightful place in the telling of our nation’s saga and the international recognition of Zora Neale Hurston as the town’s most renowned daughter.
ZORA! Festival is a wonderful multi-day, multi-disciplinary event which has demonstrated its broad appeal to young and old, “rich and poor,” and to all members of the human family worldwide. During the last week in January, thousands upon thousands visit Eatonville (10 miles north of Downtown Orlando) to celebrate the life and work of Zora Neale Hurston; to celebrate her hometown Eatonville for its historic significance; and to celebrate the cultural contributions people of African ancestry have made to the United States and to world culture.
In terms of management, historically, ZORA! Festival either “broke even;” or, as in the decades of the 1990’s, the event made some profit. However, with the Great Recession of 2008 and the subsequent years of a “Free and open to the Public” admission policy, Festival has incurred debt.
Consequently, for the first time since the P.E.C. began competing for tourist development tax grant dollars (2002), ZORA! Festival 2013 was not recommended for funding. However, on October 16 (2012), in a first-ever, one-time exception, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and the Orange County Board of County Commissioners, in a 6-1 vote, allocated the $150,000, $1-for-$1 cash match grant to P.E.C.as
long as our organization was able to meet certain stipulations. On December 10 (2012), we successfully completed the process of a vigorous fiscal and administrative plan review of ZORA! Festival 2013.
Why have we shared this information with you? Because one of the stipulations we must satisfy is to make a report in April (2013) which addresses how well our organization has been able to expand its funding base; and to demonstrate a “broad public endorsement” of ZORA! Festival by documenting the individual financial investments we receive during “the Festival cycle,” i.e., November 1, 2012 – April 30, 2013.
Please think about what you are able to invest/donate/contribute to help to sustain ZORA! Festival for our grandchildren’s grandchildren.
Thank you for your consideration. Onward!
N. Y. Nathiri
Director of Multidisciplinary Programs