Children's festival won't be held in Penticton in 2013
The Rotary International Children’s Festival will take a hiatus this year, but organizers are hoping for its return to Penticton in 2014.
Executive director Conrad Burek informed the board he would be resigning from his position in November, and with little time to advertise and hire someone new before the festival in May, they decided to take a break.
“We got a new board in December, had a couple of meetings in January, had to get the ads out that we were hiring, get the responses, arrange interviews and now we are in March,” said festival chair Jason Cox. “It takes that time to hire such a significant position. It is not that he left us in the lurch, he has worked with us and is still on staff working with us. He is absolutely going above and beyond.”
Burek took over from Gord Osland, who helped found the event. Cox said Burek’s resigning was because of personal reasons.
“It had nothing to do with the administration or the festival board, it was just his own choice,” said Cox.
The festival chair said the Penticton event is ranked in the top 10 children’s festivals in North America and their decision to take a hiatus did not come lightly. Left with decisions on getting an executive director in place and whether there would be enough time left to organize the festival up to the standards the community is used to, Cox said the board decided on taking the hiatus.
“It’s a matter of wanting to make sure we can put on a festival that everyone is used to and being fair to the staff and not letting them walk into a job where they are expected to rush into putting on a festival. It just wasn’t feasible to get it all done,” said Cox.
The executive director position has been offered to someone, but Cox said the paperwork is not all signed so the festival is not ready to announce the name.
Taking a year off should not impact the festival which is heavily funded from sources such as the Canadian Heritage Fund, the province and the City of Penticton. Cox said they have investigated the funding (44 per cent community sponsorship, 30 per cent community grants, 21 per cent ticket sales and five per cent miscellaneous sources such as vendors) and have been assured it won’t be lost.
The festival will also need to hire someone for the assistant position and wanted the executive director to be part of that process. Cox said the festival is part of a network of children’s festivals and that is how they are able to obtain such high-quality entertainment. He said they have received lots of support from other festivals offering assistance.
“The most striking to me was a festival on the Prairies. When that person first took on their role as executive director, Gord Osland, our longtime ED, was so generously helpful to them in getting them established that they want to pay it back and offered their help in getting our new executive director set up. Its great to know that we have such good standing out there that people come forward to help and our festival will continue to live on in a healthy and positive way moving forward,” said Cox.
The festival, which attracts performers from around the world, was scheduled to take place May 23 to 25 at Okanagan Lake Park. Last year, organizers estimated the popular event had over 10,000 people in attendance, and in 2011, 55 different schools attended from 20 municipalities.