Festival gets $75,000 boost

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A new arts-and-living festival is getting a $75,000 boost from the City of Kamloops in advance of its first run next summer.

The Kamloops Thrive festival, organized by B.C. Living Arts, is a mix of workshops, musical performances, lectures and art installations slated to run at Thompson Rivers University from June 21 to June 23, 2013.

Artistic director Alan Corbishley described the festival as “summer camp for adults.”

Participants who sign up for the full two-and-a-half day experience will attend a mix of small workshops on artistic and recreational pursuits — gardening, cooking, photography, to name a few — broken up by cultural events that are also open to the general public.

Corbishley said the festival is hoping to attract 1,000 to 2,000 people in its first year and up to 6,000 over the coming years.

As well as the university, B.C. Living Arts is working with a number of local cultural groups to make the event happen.

Corbishley said the grant will allow the festival to start securing artists, develop a registration process and give it the cash flow it needs as the date draws nearer.

However,  several city councillors balked at the price tag to support the festival.

Marg Spina said funding Thrive so heavily might set a precedent for council — and she isn’t sure an event that will eventually draw 6,000 people is reaching a large enough section of Kamloops’ population.

Spina also asked to see more information on Thrive’s finances, a request seconded by Nelly Dever, who said the festival’s budget of $350,000 for less than three full days seems high.

Nancy Bepple suggested council approve the grant in principle, then let the city’s service committee take a detailed look at Thrive’s financials, to determine whether a grant of $75,000 is too rich.

That motion found support from councillors who said the city needs a big-ticket cultural event.

“We want a signature event in Kamloops,”  Ken Christian said.

“We’ve started this for a long time.”

Mayor Peter Milobar also supported the grant, though he would like to see Thrive set up a long-term legacy fund for the city if the event is a success.

“I think we’re seeing a pretty broad base across the community trying to work on this project,” he said.

“I guess it’s that toe in the water. Is it going to work or not?”

Council approved the grant by a vote of 6-3, with councillors Spina, Dever and Tina Lange voting against it.


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