Wednesday, February 27, 2013

JPAS Responds To Critical Audit

After the release to the media of a draft audit that was critical of the Jefferson Performing Arts Society, JPAS Founder, Executive and Artistic Director Dennis Assaf has issued a response.

The audit, which is not final, was done at the request of Jefferson Parish. The Parish implemented a policy requiring financial audits for groups that receive Parish funding.
JPAS receives $100,000 of its $2 Million annual budget from Jefferson Parish in on-going funding. In addition, this year due to Governor Jindal vetoing a state-funding mechanism of $325,000 annually, JPAS asked Jefferson Parish to provide it with emergency funding as a one-time replacement for the lost funding. About 2/3rds of the JPAS annual budget comes from ticket sales, sponsorships, and other self-generated revenue streams.

In light of the audit, Jefferson Parish President John Young put a temporary hold on the delivery of the emergency funding to JPAS.

The audit offers several suggestions for the organization to provide stronger accounting and bookkeeping procedures but it contains no evidence of fraud.
In an 11-page letter, delivered to Parish PresidentYoung and several JP Council members, Assaf lists the findings of the audit and steps that JPAS has taken to correct issues discussed in the audit.

For his part, Assaf acknowledges that financial recordkeeping and procedures could be improved and he states that policies and procedures have already been implemented to achieve the recommendations of the audit.
“While we acknowledge that record keeping has not been optimal, we commit to improving the issues which were addressed in the draft audit report and continuing to provide quality programming for the local community as well as instilling in the children of this community a love and appreciation for the arts,” Assaf writes.

“Management and Board representatives met informally with  the auditor on January 9, 2013 and began  immediate  implementation of many of the recommendations and best practices suggested. In addition, we have created and implemented a written accounting and financial policies and procedures manual which addresses the specific concerns expressed in the draft report.  We intend to continue to build upon this manual as policy needs arise.”

JPAS was founded 35 years ago by Assaf and Hannah Cunningham. Last year, JPAS held over 200 performances in 12 theatres, 8 cities, and 5 parishes in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Assaf also appeared on Monday afternoon's edition of the John Osterlind Show on WRNO 99.5fm.