International festival organizer pledges to press on
Though the Baton Rouge Center for World Affairs lost the majority of its operating budget earlier this year when the Metro Council yanked its $115,000 annual contribution, the nonprofit's executive director says she's still trying to find a way to put on the 15th annual International Heritage Celebration this fall. But Monika Olivier says even if she can manage to raise the necessary funds, the festival will likely be postponed beyond its usual October date. The city-parish allocation accounted for about 80% of the center's budget for the year, and Olivier says the center has now run out of money and is being forced to leave its offices on Government Street near Jefferson Highway. "We have completely run out of funds, and we have to vacate this office by the end of the month because we don't have any money for the rent," Olivier says. "We don't have a choice, but I am not ready to give up on this. I'm moving the operating portion of this office into a bedroom in my house, and I'm going to do everything I can to keep this going." Though she's preoccupied with boxing up belongings and finding storage space at the moment, Olivier says she intends to begin a campaign soon to ask the local business community and others for funds to keep the International Heritage Celebration alive. "We plan on soliciting everybody," she says. Check out the nonprofit's website here to learn more about its endeavors beyond the international festival, for which it is best known. —Steve Sanoski
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