Soldotna City Council member Justin Ruffridge attends a city council meeting on Wednesday, April 27, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna City Council member Justin Ruffridge attends a city council meeting on Wednesday, April 27, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna voices support for Triumvirate fundraising efforts

The move comes weeks after a veto of financial backing from the city for the show

Soldotna City Council members on Wednesday formally voiced their support for Triumvirate Theatre’s efforts to raise money for a community production of “Tarzan,” to be held this summer. The resolution comes weeks after a mayoral veto of legislation that would have provided financial backing from the city for the show.

Among other things, the resolution, sponsored by Soldotna Mayor Paul Whitney and council member Justin Ruffridge, passed Wednesday cites the city’s previous partnerships with Triumvirate and other community organizations to coordinate events that enrich the “quality of life” in Soldotna.

“The City of Soldotna supports a continued partnership with Triumvirate Theatre to facilitate future accessible outdoor community theater productions that reinforce the enriching role of the arts in our community, highlight Soldotna’s beautiful public parks, and bring community members together to enjoy the artistic talents of their friends and neighbors,” the legislation says.

Whitney last month vetoed the use of up to $25,000 of the city’s roughly $1.1 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to help the theater put on “Tarzan” in Soldotna Creek Park this summer. That veto followed a 4-2 vote in support of financially supporting the show by Soldotna City Council members.

Council members who initially supported the funds said the production would bring the community together and was consistent with the city’s use of federal CARES funds to support Triumvirate’s 2021 production of “The Little Mermaid.” Those who opposed the funds said it could set a precedent for more groups coming forward and asking for money and that it was a financial risk for the city.

Multiple people voiced their opposition to the veto during the council’s April 13 meeting. Ruffridge, who sponsored the initial call for financial support, said the veto unintentionally fueled negative perceptions of Triumvirate Theatre. Triumvirate Executive Director Joe Rizzo told council members during the same meeting that the veto says the city does not support the program.

Per the resolution, Triumvirate is applying to the Alaska State Council on the Arts’ Community Arts Partnership Grant Program. Ruffridge said Wednesday that applications are due at the end of April and that support from the council would be beneficial.

“This would go a long way towards establishing the support for that grant,” Ruffridge said.

Whitney agreed.

“This will show that the City of Soldotna and the administration and (city) council strongly support the arts program that Triumvirate Theatre is trying to put on,” Whitney said. “We certainly hope that they do receive the grant.”

The Soldotna City Council’s Wednesday night meeting can be viewed on the city’s website at soldotna.org.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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