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WSSF 2013 was labour of love

Loss of major sponsors creates funding shortfall, forces organizers to do more with less


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"We downsized our management team, which seems not really all that possible and is why we have 12 very exhausted people right now," said Eckersley. "We're normally exhausted at this time, but now it's at the point where some of us can barely remember our names. We saved on our management and contract staff, and our valley-ops and alpine-ops did everything with less people.

"It's nothing that's sustainable, but people love this festival that work on it, and everyone was willing to work even harder to make it a reality this year."

On the music side, Eckersley said the funding actually increased with support from the FE&A program, which uses money allotted to resort communities by the province to draw visitors to the resort.

"The lineup was actually incredible, although without that FE&A money we would be having a totally different conversation right now," said Eckersley.

"The health of the festival is often based on the strength of the music lineup, though that's not always accurate — sometimes (the bands that are booked) reflect what's available at that time, and music is always very subjective, so people may not understand the costs and value of different bands."

The conference centre activities were generally successful. The Pro Photographer Showdown, 72hr. Film Festival and roller derby sold out, and there was strong attendance at Intersection and The End after party. Eckersley said the festival organizers will review other events in more detail in the coming weeks to determine what will be back next year.

For example, The Beginning launch party might be downsized or altered to include a live band, while the festival will likely work with the Spearhead Huts Project group on the multimedia Mountain Multiplicity Show to grow the event in 2014.

Eckersley is particularly excited about the roller derby event, dubbed Vengeance in the Valley, and said they will make some changes to the conference centre next year to create a better spectator experience.

"The venue was a challenge for us because we had to put the floor on one side and everybody else on the other, and not all viewing corridors were as good as we take pride in creating for other events," she said. "I've talked to the conference centre and we're going to have a rigging company come in in August and put hang points in the roof so we can hang our screens from the ceiling next year and have the roller derby floor right in the middle of the ballroom."

Eckersley will be collecting feedback from partners in the resort in the near future, including hotels, to determine whether the festival succeeded in drawing visitors to the resort — the reason the festival was created 18 winters ago. So far the anecdotal feedback has been positive.