While people have had to tighten their purse strings, some organizations have actually benefited from today’s slower economic climate. Families that have chosen not to travel this summer because of high gas prices have had to look closer to home for a way to entertain their children.


Editor’s Note: During the past week, The Ardmoreite looked at how people are coping with the current economic slowdown, and what their plans are for their economic future.


While people have had to tighten their purse strings, some organizations have actually benefited from today’s slower economic climate. Families that have chosen not to travel this summer because of high gas prices have had to look closer to home for a way to entertain their children.

And that means local entertainment groups have reaped the benefits.


Maria Parrott, director of the Charles B. Goddard Center, said summer programs, June art classes and a two-week summer day camp in July were filled to capacity with children who stayed home this summer or grandchildren visiting their relatives.


“We actually had to solicit additional instructors. Part of the reason for that was, a lot of people specifically said they were finding things that they could do in town for their kids because they weren’t traveling,” Parrott said. “And some of it was because grandparents had called and said they were going to have grandchildren vacationing in Ardmore and they wanted to select a time for them to come when we’d have activities and interests for the kids.


"They just wanted it to be something going on, a reason for the kids to come, and that they would have a good experience while they were here. We had several families specifically schedule grandchildren to come into town to participate in the activities we were having in the art studios.”


On the other hand, individual donations to the Goddard Center were down 30 percent from last year, although Parrott said she can’t confirm it was a direct result of concerns over the economy.

Sponsorships — money donated by businesses, individuals and corporations to offset the cost of a particular exhibit or performance — were on the rise this year, thanks, in part, to efforts from the Ardmore Chamber of Commerce and Ardmore Tourism Authority in helping find sponsorships for programs.


And membership revenues exceeded goals set for the past year, but Parrott said it’s too early to know if memberships for the coming year will follow suit.


“One of the impacts that we are experiencing is that we have seen a substantial increase on what it does cost to bring in a performance and exhibits. And that, of course, is very easily explained because of the increase in gas,” Parrott said. “It just costs more for the performers to get here. The transportation of an exhibit is more. So that has led to an increase of close to 20 percent in our performance and exhibit budgets.”


Vicki Gelona, owner of the Brass Ring Studios, said her organization was filled to capacity this summer, what with three special projects for youth in the Jim and Ida Williams Summer Youth Theatre program. In her experience with young people, there were plenty of families continuing their summer vacations and projects, as each week there were people missing from the theater to attend camps or travel with their families.


While participation in the summer programs was free, it does cost the children to be part of the Brass Ring’s Broadway Kids program each year, and to take private voice, acting and music lessons. Gelona said she has noticed there are more requests for scholarships for children to participate in those programs. Even so, there is no shortage of interested parties who want to participate.


“We have had a few more scholarship requests for kids than what we’ve ever seen before,” she said. “Patsy Neustadt does a scholarship fund for us and we have eight or nine that are scholarship between the Broadway Kids and private lessons. And Crystal Whitfield has some scholarship kids in The Dance Center.


“Our enrollment is actually up somewhere between 12 and 15 percent from what it was last year, both in The Dance Center and The Brass Ring,” Gelona said. “I don’t know about the private lessons yet, because we haven’t started that. I think if we had more instructors, we’d have even more people enroll.”


Michael Anderson, director of The Greater Southwest Historical Museum in Ardmore, said he has still had a steady stream of visitors coming to the museum from the local and surrounding communities, and even from surrounding states. Although there have been fewer programs this summer — last year the museum increased its program load because of the centennial — there has still been plenty of interest among the public.


“I don’t know that it (the economy) has seriously impacted us. Membership is down a little this year and we do get our money from that, but it’s not significantly off from last year,” he said. And, if money gets tight in the future, “Spend a little less is our only plan at the moment. We might choose to do less of the projects we were doing last year and equipment that needs to be improved or replaced, we may think of holding off on that and try to get as much mileage out of it as possible.”