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Cultural festival looks for municipal funding

whistler forum asked to submit proposals for money this week



The Whistler Forum is appealing to council for $20,000 to help stage the second Whistler Intercultural Festival in June.

In his appeal to mayor and council last week, forum president William Roberts asked for the money for what he affectionately calls, "The Miracle on Main Street."

Last year's festival drew thousands to the closed-off street for a celebration of food, drink, dance and culture from around the world.

"There was something magical about closing the road," he said. "It was astonishing."

The local Filipino community, in particular, rose to the occasion.

"It was a real affirmation of their role (in Whistler) and their culture," said Roberts. "(The festival) shows the changing face of Whistler, which can only help with tourism and our emerging markets."

This week he is working on an application to the municipality for RMI (Resort Municipality Initiative) funds — roughly $6.3 million in provincial grant money given to the municipality this year to drive tourism related projects. The application, which he learned about just last week, was due April 25.

Earmarked within the RMI millions is $2.7 million for Festivals, Events and Animation (FE&A). It was through that budget that last summer's free concert series was funded.

Proposals, like the one from Roberts, are due this week and will be reviewed by early May. A presentation on this year's FE&A program is planned at the May 1 council meeting.

There was no municipal money for the intercultural festival last year, though it did receive $12,000 in federal money.

Rather than help fund the project, the municipality required that festival organizers fork over approximately $400 for the lost parking revenue from closing off Main Street.

Roberts is making plans in this year's budget to pay that lost parking revenue again.

In addition to the $20,000 from Whistler, Roberts is hoping to get matching funds from the federal government — $15,000 from Citizen and Immigration and $5,000 from Heritage Canada.

This year's festival plans span two days and will provide more opportunities for different cultures to connect and interact with each other with things like fusion foods.

It is planned to kick off on Thursday, June 28, leading into the busy Canada Day long weekend.

During the day cultural forums will be planned while the street festival component will kick off over two evenings.

The grassroots group will hold a planning meeting at the Summit Lodge on Tuesday, May 8 to focus on identifying culturally diverse dancers, musicians and performers for entertaining on the stage and the street.

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