Officers say no to arts council event

Published 10:02 am Friday, November 25, 2016

Members of the Davie County Arts Council’s board of directors are still bewildered.

Out of the blue, just a couple of days before the non-profit’s major fundraiser, state alcohol law enforcement officers gave them a warning: they would be breaking the law.

The Casino Night would have been the fifth hosted by the council. A company is hired to run gaming stations, and people who pay to go to the fundraiser get pretend money to spend on the tables, and prizes are awarded to winners.

Sidniee Suggs, arts council executive director, sent a letter to everyone who had purchased a ticket in advance describing what happened.

The event was on a Friday, Nov. 12, and she got a telephone call the prior Wednesday evening from Alcohol Law Enforcement Agent Brad Putnam, who said the Greensboro office had received a complaint and a copy of an advertisement for the event.

He told her the event would be unlawful in two ways: any type of gaming is illegal in North Carolina, and all money and gaming tables would be confiscated and Suggs and board members would be charged. It is also illegal to hold any type of raffle at an event where alcoholic beverages are served or available.

Suggs didn’t stop there, and called Putnam’s supervisor, Chess McQueen, asking why other non-profits could hold similar events where alcohol is served. The answer, she said, was that they had received a complaint.

“They explained that once they knew of fundraisers where either of these laws was being broken, their duty was to inform first and then uphold those laws,” Suggs said.

“Your arts council has and will always be very mindful of how we conduct business and remain within laws, guidelines and regulations,” she said. “We had no choice but to cancel the event to refrain from breaking any laws and to enter into an embarrassing situation for those who attended the event.”

Suggs is grateful for the gaming company, which refunded the “substantial deposit” made for their services, and for the DJ which waived their fee, as well. Bermuda Run Country Club, where the event was being held, is applying the arts council’s deposits to the next event, a dinner and a show by a professional group on Feb. 18.

“We feel blessed that many of the ticket holders chose to donate their ticket costs as funding for the arts in Davie County,” Suggs said.

The merchandise that businesses and others had donated as prizes for Casino Night will be offered at a silent auction at the Feb. 18 event. It includes more than $7,000 worth of items including a flat-screen television.

“The Davie County Arts Council still needs to raise funds to continue the quality programs and projects,” Suggs said. “I hope you will consider attending the performance on Feb. 18.”