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Festival organizers increase grant request

Ed and Phyllis Stenson presented their gaming grant woes to Harrison Hot Springs
Ed and Phyllis Stenson presented their gaming grant woes to Harrison Hot Springs' council on Monday night, outlining the benefits that the Harrison Festival Society's activities and advertising bring to the community.
— image credit: Jessica Peters/ Observer

The future of the Harrison Festival Society remains in limbo, as gaming grants continue to be in short supply for arts festivals throughout the province.

So, directors of the festival requested additional funding from the Village of Harrison Hot Springs this year, to make up for a continued shortfall in their budget.

Ed and Phyllis Stenson spoke to council Monday night about the festival's funding woes, which began in 2009 when the provincial government made changes to the gaming grant funding eligibility. Funding for arts festivals has been dwindling from other sources in the past years as well.

Last year, the society made a request for $12,500 from the Village. This year, they are asking for an additional $10,000.

Some of the society's budget goes directly to advertising their events, which bring in tourism that benefits the entire Village, Ed Stenson pointed out.

"We spend about $20,000 a year marketing Harrison through the festival and other events," he said.

The festival has been running for 33 years, and the society has been holding a concert series for 23 years. They pull in 20,000 on average each summer, and 2,000 throughout the year.

They are looking at a shortfall of about $50,000 this year,

"The society’s future is precarious and could be in jeopardy," Phyllis Stenson said. "But, we wouldn’t have carried on for 33 years if we weren’t optimistic.

They are hoping the Village will consider their dilemma as they begin budget deliberations. Staff and council will start budget meeting around late February.

The Festival Society is planning their own fundraiser this spring, managing to strike a deal with the band Chilliwack for a reduced rate. Tickets for the concert are $75, with a $30 tax deductible receipt.

With the purchase of eight tickets your table will be reserved; all other seating is general admission.

In addition to the music the evening will include a silent auction and door prizes and appetizers and refreshments will be served.

The event takes place Saturday, May 5 with the doors opening at 7:30 p.m. and the music beginning at 9 p.m. Tickets are limited, and are already half sold. For more information, phone 604-796-3664.

news@ahoberver.com

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