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August 28, 2014

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Goodman puts his money where his mouth is — backs First Friday

Mayor Oscar Goodman gave $10,000 this week to Whirlygig, the nonprofit organization that runs First Friday.

The money, which came from "Oscar's" Political Action Committee will be used toward April First Friday expenses.

The monthly downtown art festival took a bit of a hit a few months ago when the city of Las Vegas decided to alter the way it funds the event.

Rather than contributing year-round, the city is donating $80,000 annually, but only during six months of the year.

To help with expenses, Whirlygig has been asking for $2 donations from visitors to the fenced-in festival area of the event at Colorado Avenue and Casino Center Boulevard. But not all visitors are putting out.

"While it's helpful, it certainly is not enough to support the event at this time," says Cindy Funkhouser, founder of First Friday.

Nancy Higgins, executive director of Whirlygig, says $11,000 to $20,000 is spent each month for barricades, security, stages, tents, lighting, sound, portable toilets, cleanup and the trolley service that shuttles visitors to each location.

Funkhouser says she knew the mayor was trying to help them out, but didn't expect him to dip into his own PAC. "He really believes in what we do," she says.

Apparently so.

When asked about the donation, the mayor said, "I gave it out of appreciation of what Cindy has done to revitalize downtown and the arts."

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