Pemberton Music Festival donates $100,000 to groups 

Arts and social projects benefit from grants raised by ticket sales: A.J. Niland

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JORGE ALVAREZ FOR THE PEMBERTON MUSIC FESTIVAL - Building community The campground at the 2015 Pemberton Music Festival. The festival announced that it was contributing $100,000 to 16 local arts and social projects.
  • Photo by Jorge Alvarez for the Pemberton Music Festival
  • Building community The campground at the 2015 Pemberton Music Festival. The festival announced that it was contributing $100,000 to 16 local arts and social projects.

The Pemberton Music Festival has contributed $100,000 in grants to 16 arts and social projects in Pemberton and local first nations communities.

Festival organizer HUKA Entertainment supplied the funding and the Village of Pemberton (VOP), along with two HUKA representatives and members of the community, selected the recipient projects.

Grants include lock-up and safety fencing for the Pemberton BMX Society, a public awareness campaign for the Pemberton Arts and Culture Council, building renovations at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #201, Kitchen Connections and the breakfast and lunch program at the Signal Hill Elementary School, the Winterfest Kid Zone for the Spirit of BC Community Committee, transportation support for the Lower Stl'atl'imx Tribal Council, One Mile Lake Park improvements for the VOP, and Burn It Smart workshops for the Sea to Sky Clean Air Society.

"Maybe it's just what Pemberton means to me at the moment, but looking through the applications with the (selection) committee, hearing what the community's needs are and being able to help, it was by far the most uplifting experience I've had with this on any level," says HUKA's co-founder and chairman A.J. Niland.

"It sounds almost cliché, but it was awesome. The process isn't glamorous: reading applications... like a city government meeting. It's not my type of thing, but being able to know some of the people and contribute was special."

The proceeds came from a portion of ticket sales from the 2014 and 2015 festivals.Niland says the grants will be an annual contribution to Pemberton; between $10,000 and $20,000 set aside for grants this year had not been distributed and would be rolled into 2016 grant funds.

"For us, it's obviously a great thing," says Pemberton mayor Mike Richman. "The festival has had a lot of spinoffs, it has been great for the community, although quite disruptive. Not everyone is in love with the disruption that it does bring, so the fact that HUKA is willing to give back to the community is just awesome."

Richman adds that there are two other taxpayer-funded discretionary funds the VOP can access to pay for similar projects, with budgets for both totalling $55,000.

"For us at the village, we don't have the budget to help all these groups as much as we'd like. So to have this fund available to these community groups to do the work they do is wonderful," Richman says.

Every group that met the criteria and applied for the first round of grants received money, Niland says.

Each HUKA event has a similar community program attached to it, with the Tortuga Festival in Florida receiving funds for ocean conservation.

"Here in Pemberton, it's about community. We've gotten to know a lot of people; we have friends and run into people at the grocery story, in restaurants. We got a sense of how strong this community is, so the format for Pemberton's (grants) is about the community," he says.

"There were so many great plans and causes. I could gush about it all day."

Meanwhile, the dates for this summer's Pemberton Music Festival have been announced.

It will take place from July 14 to 17.Early Bird tickets go on sale on Friday, Jan. 15 at 10 a.m. at www.pembertonmusicfestival.com.

Niland says this year's festival will see more space for camping and changes to the campground.

The lineup, he added, will be announced "sooner rather than later."

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