Tough decisions ahead for festival budget 

click to enlarge RAINBOW WARRIOR Dean Nelson of WInterPRiDE marches in the first pride parade associated with Whistler's legendar gay ski week.
  • RAINBOW WARRIOR Dean Nelson of WInterPRiDE marches in the first pride parade associated with Whistler's legendar gay ski week.

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"We're suggesting a Wednesday/Thursday headline performance and the artist that we're looking at and currently put on hold (has) a really strong social media following and we thought that was a really cool aspect of our proposal to engage an artist that is very active on social media. It's great to get those images and get the message out to their network that Whistler is the place to come."

The artist on hold appeals not just to the LGBT community but to a mainstream audience as well. The deal for the Whistler show would be at a charity discount rate.

As much as Nelson would like confirmation of funding as soon as possible — he had been hoping to hear by early November so he could promote the act along with the early booking deadline — there is still work to be done before the money can be allocated.

"We really do need to look at the results (of 2012) before we move forward," said Adams of the oversight committee, which considers the recommendations for the FE&A Working Group.

"The oversight committee has to have an in-depth review as to what happened last year — where the money went and what was the bang for the buck there," she added.

Council got a first high-level glimpse of that review at last week's council meeting. Crankworx, Whistler's summer mountain biking festival, received $100,000 in augmentation funding this past summer The money was primarily used on the first weekend of the 10-day festival. There was a 13 per cent increase in room nights compared to the same time in 2010, when the event was held in August.

Likewise the Wanderlust Festival, a yoga, musical celebration, saw a 15 per cent increase in room nights in its first year in Whistler, over the same weekend the year before which had no festival. It too had $100,000 in augmentation funding.

Wanderlust is coming back from Aug. 1-4 in 2013. It is not clear how much funding will be part of the 2013 line-up but the move is good news. The change means the Ironman event, new to Whistler this year, will be the stand-alone event on the Aug. 25 weekend.

This year, however, there are more applicants looking for FE&A funding, and the festival season is longer than before, potentially beginning in January 2013, as opposed to May.

Adams stressed a point that Councillor Roger McCarthy, the council FE&A rep, is continually making — the program needs to be year-round to capitalize on marketing to a captive audience, visiting the resort.

"We need to have this planning in place so we can be promoting to the visitors that are here in the winter because they're the kind of visitors I think that will drive economic impact to the resort and a lot of them I'm sure they don't know what a wonderful place it is in the summer. A lot more big picture thinking," she said.


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