CAPC workshop focuses on special events budget request
By Samantha Jones
The Eureka Springs City Advertising and Promotion Commission spent much of its Oct. 23 workshop discussing the proposed budget for 2020, especially focusing on the special events line item.
Events coordinator Tracy Johnson has requested $225,000 to bring more special events to the city, including a rock festival, the Fat Tire Festival and a culinary and craft festival. Johnson's proposed budget specifies how much money will be spent on each event, but commissioner Terry McClung said he'd like to see a breakdown on how that money will be spent.
"Well, I don't have any breakdown for what's happening yet," Johnson said. "I have the Folk Festival as the blueprint we can present. I hope to do everything in the same fashion."
The Folk Festival is doing well financially, Johnson said, with headliner Marty Stuart selling enough tickets to cover the costs of the festival. Johnson said this is proof that the commission doesn't have to lose money on special events.
"The Folk Festival is showing me that one of the main missing ingredients from these things in the past is a really great headliner," Johnson said. "If we have a really great headliner, they will draw people in to pay for the event."
McClung said the commission needs to change some things.
"That's what we've done in the past –– get a number with no direction," McClung said. "I'd like to see some structure."
Commissioner Susan Harman agreed.
"I'm not saying these events aren't worth doing," Harman said. "It's just if you're going to double your income, there has to be something significant that's going to convince us before we approve that."
CAPC director Lacey Ekberg said the Fat Tire Festival and other special events will pay for themselves. That's exactly why she needs money to put on special events, Johnson said.
"The Folk Festival proves how beneficial it is to have headliners," Johnson said, "so to have headliners, that's how much I'd need."
McClung said the city has had headliners in the past and lost money on events, saying he'd like to see a projection on how much each event would bring in.
"Hopefully those projections will be fluid," Johnson said. "That is what I am asking for."
"They always are," McClung said, "but it's nice to have a projection on the front end as to what it's going to be."
Johnson said the Folk Festival is the first event she's been in charge of, since former events coordinator Andy Green booked events for most of 2019 before he left the job.
"This is really my first time to show you all what's possible with some planning, some heart and involvement of our community," Johnson said.
Harman said she wasn't sure about spending so much money on special events when some of those funds could go toward hiring a marketing agency.
"I'm wrestling with special events and production costs," Harman said. "I know an ad agency would be able to take some of the things we're doing and use them to benefit the town."
Harman asked Ekberg if she's made a decision on an ad agency and chairwoman Carol Wright said the commission's responsibility is to approve the budget.
"I know, but this is also the time to ask questions, right?" Harman asked.
Wright said the commission decided at its last meeting not to do very many new videos because there are plenty available to use already. Ekberg has received bids for ad agencies, Wright said.
"She's got basically apples to apples comparisons on who she wants to use," Wright said, "and I fully support her and her decisions and that is why we hired her. She knows what she's doing, so I think we really need to focus today if we intend to get this budget passed."
Commissioner Bobbie Foster said it's the commission's job to ask questions about the budget.
"We were put here to help with this process," Foster said. "I feel like it's important that we're in on that process."
The commission moved on to discuss the Fat Tire Festival, with Ekberg saying the parks commission will be handling the races and the CAPC will handle the festival atmosphere downtown.
"We are not giving parks any money," Ekberg said. "This is part of [Johnson's] events budget."
Commissioner James DeVito asked if there's a breakdown between production cost and advertising for the festival and Ekberg said "not yet."
"That's what she said," Harman said. "She wants the budget approved first, then she'll provide that to us."
By the end of the workshop, the commissioners agreed the percentages in the proposed 2020 budget look good and decided to vote on the proposed budget at their next meeting.
The commission's next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13, at The Auditorium.