FE&A funding amounts revealed 

Ironman takes the lion's share; WSSF gets big boost

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO BY DAN FALLOON - FESTIVAL FUNDS The Resort Municipality of Whistler's 2019 Festivals Events & Animation budget is now public, outlining how much municipal money events like Ironman Canada are going to get this year.
  • File photo by Dan Falloon
  • FESTIVAL FUNDS The Resort Municipality of Whistler's 2019 Festivals Events & Animation budget is now public, outlining how much municipal money events like Ironman Canada are going to get this year.

The Resort Municipality of Whistler's Festivals, Events and Animation (FE&A) budget is now public, and it bears a striking resemblance to last year's funding layout.

Of the $770,250 being doled out this year, Ironman Canada will once again receive the lion's share (at $282,000, no change from last year) followed by the World Ski and Snowboard Festival ($170,000, up from $100,000 last year) and Tough Mudder ($100,000 for the full and half events, no change from last year).

In response to questions regarding the FE&A funding for Ironman—an event run by a private company that many in the community do not support—Crompton deferred to the three-year agreement signed in 2017 (see Pique, Aug. 7, 2017: "Ironman renewed, but not everyone is onboard").

"It's an agreement that we entered into, and it's an agreement that we're going to honour," he said.

As for the big increase to the World Ski and Snowboard Festival (WSSF), Crompton pointed to the fest's sizable economic impact.

"An Economic Impact Assessment conducted in 2012 showed that it generated $27.3 million of economic activity for B.C., and $14.7 million in Whistler economic activity," he said. "This event is critical to extending our ski season."

Does that mean the RMOW is committed to long-term funding for the WSSF, which has undergone some big changes of its own in recent years (see Pique, Dec. 13, 2018: "Whistler World Ski and Snowboard Festival founder critical of new direction of event")?

Not entirely.

"We're committed to a spring shoulder season event that lengthens our ski season and builds durability into the businesses that operate in Whistler," Crompton said.

The most noticeable change is to funding for Crankworx Whistler, which will get nothing from the municipality for the first time since 2013.

The mountain bike festival received a total of $242,000 from 2013 to 2018, but didn't apply for any FE&A funding in 2019, said general manager Darren Kinnaird.

"Years ago, we saw an opportunity to get more kids and families involved in Crankworx, and we shared that with the FE&A group," Kinnaird said. "They invested in that programming over the years, and it has now reached a point where there is hundreds if not thousands of kids coming here to participate in Crankworx.

"It has turned into a huge component of the Crankworx world tour, and a big part of that was from the funding that we've gotten over the years from the FE&A program."

That's not to say Crankworx won't apply for FE&A funding in the future, "we just thought, 'You know what? This program that we've worked with them on for the last few years has matured, and we don't need the support anymore,'" Kinnaird said. "It's been, I think, sort of like a poster child of what the FE&A was supposed to do."

Other events in this year's FE&A lineup: the Whistler Film Festival ($45,000); Cornucopia ($36,000); GranFondo ($30,000); Whistler Pride and Ski Festival ($25,000); the Whistler Children's Festival ($22,500); the Whistler Writers Festival ($18,750); the Whistler Village Beer Festival ($15,000); the Whistler Half Marathon ($14,000) and the Whistler 50 Relay and Ultra ($12,000).

A new event announced in 2017—the Whistler Youth Games, which had $20,000 allocated to it that year—was not pursued further, due to a lack of resources within the organizations working to deliver the event.

The FE&A program was launched in 2013 to "provide a coordinated and targeted cultural offering" for Whistler, according to the RMOW.

While it was originally funded with provincial Resort Municipality Initiative money, the program is now paid for using Municipal and Regional District (also known as the hotel tax) funds.

The investment of both funds is a "partnership between the RMOW and provincial government ... the provincial government provided encouragement for us to pivot the FE&A program towards the MRDT funds," Crompton said.

"It wasn't a change in policy, it was a change in application of the policy."

Find more info at www.whistler.ca/culture-recreation/events-festivals/program-information.

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