Uptown Live getting too much city support

Re: Uptown Live to return (NewsLeader, Feb. 21)

“The show will go on” and look again who will pay for it.

A total of $48,000 for one festival?

Have the mayor and his five labour-friendly councillors lost their minds? Do they not realize that is one third of the cost of Hyack’s yearly stipend to put on several events throughout the year?

As founding and past president of the West End Business Association we organized very successful music festivals beginning in 2009. With plenty of hard work, a huge volunteer effort, a yearly grant of $1,500 and minimal “in-kind” services, we produced the greatest 12th Street Music Festival (2011) this city has ever experienced.

The street was packed with five stages of entertainers and over 100 vendors (not 30 as Chuck Puchmayr reports each year since). The 2011 event also included a huge Caribbean component which not only performed on stage but put on a parade within the festival, a true crowd pleaser.

Uptown Live arose from the efforts of Hyack volunteers long before the hiring of Douglas Smith. The 2013 event was good. But to say there was 25,000 people attending is false. Visitors were there as a result of the famous Hyack International Parade—a parade drawing crowds from B.C. and the Pacific Northwest.

I don’t see the need for an association getting $28,000 in cash when others, putting on a comparable show, get by on $1,500. Nor do I see the need for $20,000 for in-kind service.

The motion from Coun. Bill Harper and support of Coun. Chuck Puchmayr to fund this event has event organizers and volunteers in this city shaking their heads.

The new Uptown Business Association includes members with successful businesses and to expect taxpayers to fund this is ridiculous. Particularly when it includes the plan to employ Douglas Smith at $10,000 to help stage the event. Does this mean the city is now setting a precedent to include a salary to pay event coordinators (like Mr. Smith) to organize festivals?

My advice to the mayor and city council is to give your heads a shake.

And my advice to Uptown Business Association is to put your businesses and volunteers to work to raise funds and seek paid vendor participation.

Your grant should not be more than what others receive for a one-shot festival.

John Ashdown

New Westminster

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