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Council gives Osoyoos’ new music festival another 25K on top of 15K already committed
The executive committee with the Desert Live music festival that is coming to Osoyoos prior to Canada Day celebrations can start booking bands after Town of Osoyoos council voted Monday to contribute an additional $25,000 on top of the $15,000 it committed a couple of months ago.
The organizing committee with Desert Live had originally planned a 10-day event to be held before and after Canada Day celebrations, but the size and scope of the festival has been toned down substantially over the past several months.
The Osoyoos Desert Live Music Festival has been confirmed to begin June 27 and will wrap up with a headline concert as part of the town’s annual Canada Day Cherry Fiesta celebrations.
It’s crucial this event get off to a good start so it can continue to grow and not have to seek as much financial support in future years, so donating $40,000 will go a long way towards ensuring the festival is a success in its inaugural year, said Coun. C. J. Rhodes.
“I really think that we have something here that needs to get off the ground in a very positive way … and I think we can afford it,” said Rhodes.
As a big music fan and someone who has attending music festivals in other towns, Rhodes said the Desert Live festival should attract many visitors to town and local hotel, motel and restaurant owners will benefit.
Equally important to the economic development benefits is the fact well-run music festivals “create a spirit that makes people feel good” and generates excitement for future festivals, said Rhodes.
Mayor Stu Wells, who supported a motion to donate an additional $25,000 for the festival and rejected a motion for an additional $15,000, said local business owners have been asking to bring more high-profile events to this community for many years and he’s confident Desert Live is going to be a big success in its inaugural year and for many years to come.
“We’ve been asked for years to get something new going on in the summer,” said Wells.
Wells made it clear all of the $40,000 that will be directed towards the music festival will come from the town’s resort municipality funding.
Local hotel and motel owners have for several years charged and collected a two per cent tax that goes directly into marketing the town as one of B.C.’s 14 resort municipalities.
That fund raised roughly $290,000 in 2013.
The province matches those funds and town council is free to spend its portion on community projects that it feels will enhance the community as a tourist destination.
Donating $40,000 will go a long way to ensuring the organizing committee is able to hire some prominent musical acts and guaranteeing a successful festival this year, said Wells.
Mike Campol, who is heading up the executive committee with Desert Live, was thrilled with council’s support.
“This will go a long way to ensuring our goal of holding a well-run and well-attended festival in our first year,” said Campol. “Our organization has said from the beginning that it was crucial to get municipal support right off the bat and we’ve received that support.
“Now it’s up to us to put on a great event that will enhance the visitor experience and be a success not only in its first year, but for years to come.”
Having council show so much support for the inaugural festival sends a clear message to major corporate sponsors that Osoyoos’ leaders and citizens want Desert Live to be a huge success, said Campol.
The money approved by council will “lessen the financial pressure” of organizing a first-time festival in a major way, he said.
“Now we have the opportunity to prove to the town that this is money well-spent,” he said.
Members of council made it clear they are willing to spend money to help the organizing committee for the inaugural festival, but won’t be willing to donate such a significant amount on an annual basis.
If the festival is as successful as organizers hope for, the goal is to attract major corporate sponsorship in year two and not have to ask council for any taxpayer dollars, said Campol.
The Desert Live Music Festival will be held in Gyro Park with all bands performing in the band shell.
Organizers are hoping local restaurant and pub owners will also be hiring their own musical acts as part of the festival.
The committee hopes to attract a recognized headline act for a performance the evening of July 1 in the next few weeks, said Campol.
While approving the additional $25,000 in funding, council also voted to have the organizing committee present a detailed budget within 30 days of the end of the festival.
Because there are so many other music festivals in B.C. and across Canada in June and July, it’s imperative that the local committee start booking bands, especially a headline act, as quickly as possible, said Campol.
While the majority of acts that will be signed for the inaugural festival will come from B.C. and many of them from the South Okanagan, the committee knows that landing a big-name headline act will go a long way towards determining the overall success of the event, he said.