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Can Port Moody afford a new one-day arts festival?

The event is being budgeted to cost almost $25,000
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A new one-day arts festival is being proposed for Port Moody.

A new one-day outdoor arts festival for Port Moody is a great idea.

But whether the city can afford it, or help with the organizing, is another question, say Port Moody councillors.

On Tuesday (Jan. 25), they voted to approve in principle the festival being proposed by the city’s arts and culture committee, while also directing staff to identify its cost and the resources required to pull it off.

Earlier, the vice-chair of the festival’s organizing committee told council that the event — to be scheduled in August — would help promote artists in the city from a number of disciplines, including visual and performing arts.

Tracey Schaeffer said the festival would be comprised of five components including:

  • a fast-film contest in which young filmmakers are given a set theme and time limit to complete a four- to seven-minute short film
  • a “Battle of the Brushes” live painting competition
  • an outdoor artists’ market at the Kyle Centre
  • live performances in small “black-box” type theatres in Kyle Centre
  • workshops and demonstrations

The budget for the event, tentatively called Breeze: Art is in the Air, is set at about $23,500 that includes prize money for five winners in various categories in the film competition.

The figure raised eyebrows of some councillors.

“It would be great if we had $25,000 sitting in our back pocket to give to help the organizers,” said Coun. Diana Dilworth.

Coun. Meghan Lahti expressed reservations about a volunteer committee being able to organize such a large undertaking.

But she also worried city staff is already too stretched to provide much help.

“I do have some concerns about how this will happen,” she said.

Coun. Hunter Madsen agreed, saying staff already have a lot of their plate with other events like the annual Car Free Day that’s also set for August.

Schaeffer said the festival could be an important step in the recovery of the city’s arts community from the impacts of two years of COVID-19 public health restrictions.

“A lot of people are feeling isolated,” she said. “My goal would be to get people interacting with each other.”

Schaeffer suggested one strategy would be to plan a more modest event for this summer to create a foundation for a larger festival in future years while also proving the idea’s worth to potential sponsors.

“We need to do the first one,” she said.