Wednesday, June 5, 2013
The Price of Popularity
Park party has outgrown itself and its budget
Staff/Voice file photo
Ranj Singh at Party in the Park July 2010.
he Downtown Business Improvement Association showed up at the Tuesday afternoon City Hall meeting with hat in hand, looking to beef up their operating budget with an additional $8830 added to the possible $7000 that taxpayers may end up paying for the event.
This isn't some rinky-dink little stage any longer. This is bigger than that. The huge event has outgrown the little community park venue. It's time to face the facts.
The BIA estimates only 30,000 people attended all seven events last year. But that figure is on the low side. The actual number is likely a lot higher than that. They were rained out on one night as well.
The BIA obviously has some issues to deal with in terms of what kind of talent they bring in; local or elsewhere, and whom they want to feature.
An issue that cropped up last year was when Darcy D took over and brought in his line of talent from around the valley, was that many local musicians felt like they were left out of the loop.
The local guys want in to the park venue. Most of them feel that the Cultural Centre has priced itself out of the market and some local musicians can't get gigs anywhere because of a perceived monopoly on venues by a certain local emcee/musician. That's how few venues there are to play steady paid gigs.
Party in the Park has always done extremely well on the original budget. If the BIA wants big crowds, then they'll bring in big names and pay the big dough. It's unclear what the additional money would be used for, if they plan on bringing in less expensive locals, but apparently they will return any unused money.
There's a decision to be made; if you pay big money for big name acts then more people from outside of Chilliwack will want to see them. You'll have more crowds spending more money in local businesses. Or, you bring in local bands, keep the crowds more local for less money all the way around for all concerned.
BIA Executive Director Kathy Funk is currently looking for musicians that want to play for free.
Darcy D did a great job and changed it up by bringing in big-name talent from other areas.
It is possible to do a mix of local and non-local talent. You've got 8 nights to play with.
Coun. Sue Attrill said that she'd like to see more local talent, adding that it can also help to keep the budget down. Coun. Maclean said he'd like to see more local sponsorship opportunities.
Mayor Sharon Gaetz noted that the budget has seen threefold increase over the last three years.
It all seems to be pointing to a make-or-break year for Party ala Park.
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