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County Promotes Tourism to Fuel Economy

Douglas County will be soon looking to hire a full time museum curator who would also serve as a tourism director for the County.

The Douglas County Board of Commissioners will be asking the State Legislature to allow them to collect eight percent on hotel/motel tax. The County currently brings in five percent while the City of Douglasville collects
eight.

“We would like to utilize this tax to hire a full time museum curator who would also serve as a tourism director for the County,” said Chairman Tom Worthan.

The goals for this newly created position will be to bring in more visitors and increase the County’s visibility as a vacation destination. A few ways of meeting those goals include opening the museum five days a week, developing partnerships with the Film Commission and Development Authority as well as promoting the County on a global level. The old courthouse will serve as the central location for the person hired.

“Douglas County has a lot of things to see and do for those who are from different parts of Georgia, the United States or the World. The Hydrangea Festival already draws a diverse crowd with the potential to become a destination event for people from everywhere,” Worthan said.

If the legislature approves the request the County would then begin a selection process to find the right person to fill the job. Funding for this new position would come from the additional tax and would also provide money for marketing and promotional materials to assist the director.

“Finding the right person to lead our tourism efforts will be critical and is not
a decision that can be made overnight. Our plans will be to have the person in
place by 2014,” said Worthan.

LeeR February 14, 2013 at 03:20 PM
As I've read past articles about this, I've gathered that the County wants to hire an experienced and degreed Curator for the old courthouse. I hope they realize that a true experienced museum curator degreed with a BA in Art History is not going to have a clue on how to develop tourism. A good Director of Tourism must have a good background in Strategic Planning in Tourism. That is not the skill set of a true Museum Curator.
Lisa Cooper February 14, 2013 at 03:39 PM
I've been told by a couple of folks involved with the downtown museum that a full time curator is key for obtaining accreditation....a process that is necessary for the ability to receive traveling exhibits that would also help to gain "outside" traffic for the museum. However, in all of the news that I'm reading about hiring a curator I don't hear any of this. I hope accreditation is still a goal, and not just a push for the Hydrangea Festival.
Steve February 14, 2013 at 03:57 PM
What kind of "crowds" is a Hydrangea Festival going to attract? Diversity? Please. A handful of old ladies is not my idea of diverse. Nor is a Hydrangea Festival going to attract me and my tourist dollars. We can do better than that.
LeeR February 14, 2013 at 04:28 PM
Is this about history and the museum or is it about a festival event. I've lived around Douglasville for some time, and hydrangeas have never been connected to Douglasville or Douglas County. Macon has a cherry blossom festival, but they have a history with the Yoshino cherry tree. Festivals are all well and good for our community, but I get the feeling that the Hydrangea event is supposed to be the mother of all festivals. Pouring money into it won't solve the declining attendance it has experienced since it began. I hope the County will realize they need a person who has the appropriate skill set for the job. If you need a true curator for the old courthouse go hire a curator, but know they won't have the experience it takes to go out and market Douglas County to the world.
Jackie O. Asare February 14, 2013 at 07:16 PM
From reading this tourism angle in this story and responding with a limited view of their goals, it would seem that Douglas County would need more than a museum curator but a public relations/marketing team connected to tourism who can tell the stories of historic Douglasville and who would work hand and hand with the local press, museum, new convention hall, Chamber etc. When you're trying to attract tourist, especially in the Atlanta Metro Area and nationally, media exposure is critical and a hiring a curator/historian may not be enough. Serenbe has done a great job as a community promoting themselves as a sustainable community with great restaurants, small boutiques, a getaway of sorts. - Jackie, media specialist and Douglasville resident.
Bob M February 15, 2013 at 02:34 PM
I am a Douglasville resident. In reading this article (and others)I am surprised that the people who live in Douglasville and Douglas County are unaware that they have, in their community already, the perfect person to act as the cultural director & museum curator needed for this project-- the person responsible for the Taste of Douglasville (and a number of other major draw events to our community). The Hydrangea Festival is a sweet, local festival and it's a lovely thing, but it is not the type of major festival that Taste of Douglasville is. Taste of Douglasville serves between 10,000 & 14,000 attendees each year and involves artists, crafters, restaurants and other local "green" resources and diverse businesses of HUGE benefit to our city and our county, and it is put on by the Cultural Arts Council of Douglasville/Douglas County, whose executive director is a skilled event coordinator of major events, and a degreed gallery/museum professional of immense knowledge and skill. Involving the Cultural Arts Council of Douglasville/Douglas County (who I have not seen mentioned in these articles) is THE obvious partner for the museum project. The executive director of the Cultural Arts Council is the obvious best possible selection for the first phase of planning this museum expansion. I would urge the city and county fathers to put the best interests of this project first, and reach out in partnership to the Cultural Arts Council for guidance, instruction and support.
Richard R February 15, 2013 at 05:00 PM
Has anyone asked the question of how much a curator would cost us in salary, benefits and long term retirement costs? Usually a curator wants additional people to supplement their efforts - - additional costs. Then to try to draw more tourists to Douglas County, you need additional advertising investments and additional administrative support. What will happen to the tourism function now at the Chamber of Commerce and their funding? Please tell me what we have in Douglas County that will attract tourism in amounts sufficient to offset all of the additional costs? Is this to help fill the Douglasville convention center that really wasn't needed? Will we need additional police and fire support for tourism? And lastly, how many hotels do we have in Douglas County outside the city limits???? If there is less than ten, then the increase in hotel tax within the county is smoke and mirrors to make people think this will fund the curator position. Show me the numbers! Maybe the county should look into County Fairs instead of museums which are readily available in Atlanta, but are continually under utilized.
LeeR February 16, 2013 at 01:38 AM
Bob M, you have some very good observations. I also like the Hydrangea event, but it is in no way a keystone event. However, it is a very nice event for gardeners in our community to showcase their talents around town. I heard from people involved with the last Hydrangea festival. In the two day time span of the 2012 event, around 800 people were in attendance for the tours. In comparison, the Cultural Arts Council, in a partnership with the City of Douglasville, had way over 10,000 people from all over the area. People traveled from Atlanta and surrounding parts of east Alabama, west and north Georgia to experience the Taste of Douglasville in just five plus hours. Not a two day time period, but five plus hours. That happened also with severe hampering of parking due to ongoing construction of the new downtown conference center. That event is a major fund raising effort for the CAC. It made money. I'm just pointing out one of many events the CAC has vast experience in managing. If events are what the County wants, then there is a proven track record. As for a Curator, the CAC Executive Director has, hands down, the credentials to handle the logistics and legalities of art exhibits. Having a draw for tourism means having a viable well run museum. You just don't throw things on a wall, and expect people to show up. As for tourism, it is another animal.
Bob M February 17, 2013 at 04:43 PM
Point taken, GSL but I still believe that the exec at CAC is the best first choice for consultation -- and a money saving choice (in response to Richard R), at least in the first stages of this project -- and even potentially a resource for FINDING a tourism expert, when the time comes. Obviously cultural / heritage tourism are disciplines unto themselves and have a skillset of their own, but the worlds do cross -- museum curatorship and tourism -- just by virtue of the fact that you can't have one without the other. In my opinion Douglasville could be a cultural arts and tourism jewel of West Georgia, and not because of the Hydrangea Festival, but for so many other, more lofty reasons, not the least of which is a nature park of renowned and unappreciated beauty - - Sweetwater Creek, as well as a beautiful shopping mall, a lovely, historic downtown, a dedicated Chamber of Commerce and a citizenry that wants to be involved, if they are given a chance to speak and participate openly. The town and the county need to reach out to the citizens and define their tourism purpose -- the WHY of coming here, and there ARE reasons that people would want to come here -- we just need to take stock and reacquaint ourselves with what is here - the "potential" is here. Here's a link for anyone truly interested - the city and the county need to read it - quick! http://www.georgia.org/SiteCollectionDocuments/Industries/Tourism/Product%20Development/GA%20Heritage%20Tourism%20Handbook.pdf

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