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No festival funding for WinterPRIDE

Gay ski week first to learn its fate in the 2013 line up



Whistler's annual gay ski week isn't getting any municipal festival funding this year because the resort will likely be filled to the rafters at that time.

WinterPRIDE is taking place over the same weekend as B.C's inaugural Family Day, the newly created stat holiday in February. Business is expected to be booming at that time.

And while that's good news for Whistler, it's not good news for WinterPRIDE.

"We just thought 'well, we're going to be full anyway,'" explained Councillor Roger McCarthy, the council rep on the municipal Festivals, Events & Animation (FE&A) committee.

"To some degree it would have been kind of dumb for us to throw money at that."

And so the request for gay festival augmentation funding in the range of $30,000 to $100,000, aimed at luring a mainstream celebrity with a large social media following, has been turned down.

WinterPRIDE organizer Dean Nelson, despite the disappointment in the funding, said he was excited that the municipality is taking note of the festival's importance.

"We're excited that the municipality is going to invest in an economic impact study," said Nelson. "That's something that's positive that came out of it. We're happy about that."

Nelson is the first to learn about municipal funding from the FE&A budget, which last year totalled $2.6 million, with likely the same money at its disposal this year. Gay ski week is the first major event on the 2013 calendar.

The idea, one that McCarthy is trying to keep top of mind as the committee makes its decision, is trying to keep the resort busy, particularly in low periods.

"Really, what we're trying to do is establish strategies that drive room nights during what I call off-peak periods," he said.

"Fundamentally if you're just throwing money out the door for the sake of whoever is coming through the door and asking for money, are you growing room nights?

"We need to be accountable for this stuff and what works and what doesn't work."

Because the new Family Day stat holiday won't be moving, indeed Whistler lobbied hard to have it on the second weekend of February, the FE&A Committee is suggesting that WinterPRIDE could move to an earlier date, perhaps a slower week in January, in subsequent years.

Film Festival gets more time to secure funding

Whistler Film Festival organizers are set to be given a two-month extension to secure one million dollars in outdside funding for the Rainbow Theatre renovation.

Council has pushed back an end-of-year date to February 28, 2013 to give WFF organizers more time to secure the funding for the $1.34 million project. If all the funding is in place the municipality has pledged $350,000 in Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) funds.

"We see the vision in much the same way that the film festival does but we have a 365-day view of what it (the Rainbow Theatre) needs to be, more than just one week of film festival," said Councillor Roger McCarthy.

"Let's think big picture."

He explained that the muni wants to invest the money so it gets the biggest bang for its buck, so that conferences would be enticed to Whistler because of the theatre space, for example.

"On behalf of the Whistler Film Festival Society, we are very encouraged that the RMOW has formalized a funding committment and supported a revised renovation plan for the Rainbow Theatre Capital Project," said WFF executive director and co-founder Shauna Hardy Mishaw. "We have been advised that the deadline imposed can be flexible as it may be very challenging to meet. The RMOW's support enables us to attract further funding for the project and to continue to build on the tremendous success of this year's Whistler Film Festival... and provide the community with a state of the art theatre that ultimately will be a benefit for all."