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Sponsors pulling support from Hyack Festival Association
The ongoing imbroglio between the Hyack Festival Association and its former executive director Douglas Smith is starting to hit Hyack in the bank account.
Strathallen Property Management, which runs the Royal City Centre, advised the Hyack board on Thursday that it will be pulling support from Hyack. And another supporter, Key West Ford, is reviewing is sponsorship commitment.
Earlier, Uptown Property Group informed Hyack that it was terminating its support for the association and would organize the Uptown Live and Uptown Unplugged music events on its own.
Laura Veevers, property manager at Royal City Centre, said "we cannot support an association that has demonstrated archaic planning and backwards thinking for our community."
In an interview, Adam Isfeld, general manager of Key West Ford, said the controversy regarding Smith's on-again, off-again, on-again dismissal from his position is "upsetting."
Smith was fired by the executive committee of the Hyack board of directors July 31. He disputed the dismissal, contending the committee didn't have the authority to let him go. He was reinstated in August as members of the board tried to sort out their own internal squabbles.
At that time Smith said he'd take on the job for a month to allow the issues to be resolved. But when they weren't he ended his association with Hyack Sept. 19.
Gavin Palmer, the president of Hyack and a member of the executive group that ousted Smith, characterized the dispute as a difference of philosophies as some members of the board took exception to changes instituted by Smith during his almost two-year tenure.
But Isfeld, whose company was the title sponsor of this year's Hyack International Parade, said some of those changes are necessary.
"We always try to combine the history, but you also have to mix it with the new age relevance," said Isfeld, who estimated his company's support to Hyack in money, time, use of vehicles, marketing and staff resources, amounts into the six figures.
In her letter to the Hyack board, Veevers also cited the conflict between the future and the old way of doing things.
"We wanted to support an association that believed in the progress of New Westminster and how it is becoming a thriving and exciting community to work and live in," she wrote. "Recent events have clearly shown us that the Hyack Association is an exclusive and self-promoting entity that has no place in this day and age."
Palmer said Hyack will press on.
"It's obviously going to have an impact," he said in a phone interview from Leavenworth, Wash., where he and other members of the board and the Hyack ambassadors were attending the Autumn Leaf Festival. "Whether we have $200,000 or $20, we just have to do more fundraising in the community."
Palmer said Hyack's roster of annual events can cost up to $400,000. That money comes from the City of New West, as well as corporate sponsors.
"Every year it's different," he said. "We've had good years where we've had lots of sponsorship dollars. We look at what we've got."
But the exodus of corporate funding is already having an effect. The Hyack float is not in Leavenworth to take part in the festival's Grand Parade, and a trip by board members, the ambassadors and the float to the Issaquah Salmon Days Festival next week is being paid for by donations from supporters.
"These are people who feel strongly enough to get us there," said Palmer.
Isfeld said he wants to know what's going on before he puts another dollar towards Hyack.
"It's all about bringing people together," he said. "Where the community is going is amazing. We're heavily invested in the community."