The numbers — both in terms of financials and participation — were positive for the Whistler Film Festival Society at its annual general meeting in Vancouver on Friday, May 30.
For the first time in years, operations revenues were higher than expenses for the society, which runs the five-day Whistler Film Festival in early December. As well, WFFS expenses were also shaved resulting in savings.
Overall, there was a "modest increase of revenues over expenses" of $22,000.
Neal Clarance presented the 2013 financial statement for the society at the meeting, which took place at the offices for the Alliance for Arts & Culture. The meeting was held in Vancouver because most WFFS members live there, and to make access easier for B.C. film industry representatives. Around 25 people attended.
"The good news is that in 2013 we saw the society realize an excess in revenues over expenses for the first time in many years. This is a positive sign and hopefully an indication of the continued improving financial results," Clarance said.
Total revenues for the year were $1,491,683 compared to $1,136,000 in the previous year, a 21 per cent increase. Clarance said the increase was primarily due to the society receiving more in contributed or in-kind services, totalling approximately $100,000, and corporate and individual sponsorship valued at approximately $20,000.
"Significant efforts have been made in the past year to control costs. It has been an ongoing thing, to try and work from the back end forward," said Clarance. "This has resulted in a decrease in our expenses from $1,548,000 to $1,469,000.
The largest expense increases were in salaries and benefits, interest and bank changes. Most other expenses declined from the previous year, he added. This includes travel, accommodation, production and special events. Contractor fee decreases were seen to offset the salary and benefit increases.
"Aside from these categories, the efforts to try to control and reduce expenses were generally successful, resulting overall in a saving of $79,000. The reduction over the past two years is almost $200,000, which is a good improvement there," Clarance said.
Funding received for the renovations recently completed on the Rainbow Theatre, roughly $195,000, was listed as deferred revenue as not all the obligations had yet been met fully, he added. Once they are met, this will become realized revenue.
The executive director of the WFF, Shauna Hardy Mishaw, called WFF "the little festival that could."
In 13 years, the festival has raised $11 million "since this cultural enterprise began," she said.
Hardy Mishaw added that the festival generated an annual economic impact of $5.1 million in British Columbia, with $2.8 million of that impact benefitting Whistler. As well, $6.7 million was the value attributed to media coverage stemming from the festival.
The 2013 festival saw 9,500 attendees, 84 films — 83 of them were premieres — 89 screenings of five screens, and 56 per cent of content was Canadian.
"And in regards to our Whistler Summit, which is a three-day, concentrated business event which runs in conjunction with the festival, we had 628 delegates representing a 13 per cent increase over 2012. That amounted to 1,331 attendees, and we had 66 participants joining us, including sales agents, distributors — including the top 12 distribution companies from across the country, acquisition executives, industry experts, and broadcasters. It was a really great mix this year," said Hardy Mishaw.
The industry representatives attended workshops, panels, and market and networking events at the festival.
"These are really great results in terms of our programming," Hardy Mishaw said.
Ann Chiasson, the vice chair, reported that 2013 was "a very inspiring year" for the festival.
"We had a lot of new people attending the film festival in Whistler... our Canada-China Gateway project was a success with many coming from China, which was fantastic. We surpassed our goals in sponsorship and membership revenue," Chiasson said.
"And the public sector support remains strong for Whistler's signature cultural event. Our fundraising events achieved momentum with sequels planned for 2014, so we seem to be on a roll after 2013."
As well, six directors were voted to the board of the society for one- or two-year terms, Neal Clarance, Shawn Williamson, Elizabeth Yake, Don Thompson, Trish Dolman, and Ron Hyruniuk.