Elvis gets a re­prieve

Com­mit­tee votes to keep the Elvis Fes­ti­val run­ning for two more years

The Enterprise-Bulletin (Collingwood) - - FRONT PAGE - J. T. MCVEIGH

COLLING­WOOD — Elvis lives, at least for an­other two years.

The cal­en­dar had been set on what is dubbed the world’s big­gest Elvis Fes­ti­val three years ago when Colling­wood’s parks, re­cre­ation and cul­ture depart­ment was in­structed to over­see a study on the long- term vi­a­bil­ity of the fes­ti­val.

Mem­bers of the Cor­po­rate and Com­mu­nity Ser­vices Com­mit­tee heard the con­clu­sion of the study Mon­day night, where they were faced with an ei­ther/ or rec­om­men­da­tion.

The com­mit­tee could ei­ther ask coun­cil to con­sider ap­prov­ing the con­tin­u­a­tion of the fes­ti­val for an­other two years, which would take it to a land­mark 25th an­niver­sary, or di­rect staff to cease pro­duc­tion of the fes­ti­val and search for a third party who may want to run it.

“We are at a cross­roads,” said parks, re­cre­ation and cul­ture depart­ment direc­tor Dean Col­lver. “The big­gest chal­lenge fac­ing the fes­ti­val is the risk as­so­ci­ated with the fi­nan­cials.” Dean Col­lver, parks, re­cre­ation and cul­ture depart­ment direc­tor

The fes­ti­val’s over­all ex­penses re­mained within the bud­get for 2017, how­ever pro­jected rev­enues failed to mea­sure up as there was a sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion in arena ticket sales. “From an op­er­a­tional per­spec­tive, it was the best we could have done,” said Col­lver. “We achieved most of the ob­jec­tives that coun­cil set out for us but the eco­nomic im­pact has been pos­i­tive. Costs have been care­fully con­trolled but the rev­enue risks re­main. There is no way to avoid ( whether) tick­ets sell or not.”

The losses from dis­ap­point­ing ticket sales this year lead to a deficit of $ 124,000. This is de­spite the fes­ti­val bring­ing in $ 1.5 mil­lion from vis­i­tors, a rise of 15% over last year.

More than 8,000 vis­i­tors at­tended the fes­ti­val this past year, more than 6,000 from out of town.

We are at a cross­roads. The big­gest chal­lenge fac­ing the fes­ti­val is the risk as­so­ci­ated with the fi­nan­cials.”

“I think that it would be a shame if we trashed it now,” said Coun. Kevin Lloyd, sug­gest­ing that the fes­ti­val is only two years from a sil­ver an­niver­sary.

Part of the prob­lem, sug­gested Col­lver, is what he calls the Canada 150 Syn­drome; the num­ber of fes­ti­vals com­mu­ni­ties hosted to cel­e­brate Canada’s sesqui­cen­ten­nial through­out the sum­mer.

Ac­cord­ing to Fes­ti­vals and Events On­tario, there was a gen­eral de­cline in ticket sales and at­ten­dance ex­pe­ri­enced by many of the prov­ince’s fes­ti­vals.

Al­though rev­enue is the big­gest chal­lenge, Col­lver told the com­mit­tee that part­ner­ships with The Blue Moun­tains, Cran­berry/ Liv­ing Water and the OLG are strong and that all in­di­ca­tions are that they are pre­pared to sup­port the fes­ti­val.

Af­ter some dis­cus­sion, the com­mit­tee voted unan­i­mously to ac­cept the pro­posal to main­tain the fes­ti­val for an­other two years.

Coun­cil will hear the mo­tion Oct. 16.

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