At lunchtime today I was invited to chat with the Public Dreams’ folks to discuss my concerns over the moving of the Illuminares Festival from Trout Lake (see various posts below). Through the agency of Skype (doncha just love it!), Laura Grieco, PD’s managing director, PD board member Todd Sieling and I reviewed the issues that had caused the move.
Costs, of course, are the key problem. Trout Lake is a perfect location (even without thinking of the history of the event) because it has the beautiful open space and it has the lake which is simply magical with the latterns floating at night. However, putting on a grand show at Trout Lake where upwards of 25,000 people will attend involves large expenditures on street closures, permits and portapotties. And that brings into focus two major problems.
One, like many arts organizations, Public Dreams is great at the creative level but just no good at public fundraising. PD admits that they have not, to date, made contact with some of the organizations and community groups that might help them in their task. And they have been notably absent during such events as Italy Day and the No-Car Days on the Drive where fundraising buckets might have been a useful idea.
But we can’t blame PD entirely for their lack of resources, which brings us to the second problem: You and I who rush to attend the event have seen it as a midsummer gift from on high, and we have failed to put our hands in our pockets to help defray the costs of our own pleasure. We have failed to appreciate that this is not a taxpayer-supported event but one that needs our help if it is to survive.
I suspect that PD recognizes that this year’s event in the concrete and glass of Canada Place did not match the quality achieved in an outdoor space. As I understand it, the location for the 2012 Illuminares Festival is not yet set, and we could still save it for the east side. But a number of things have to come together if this is to happen.
(1) Public Dreams needs to do a far better job at connecting with the community, both the community at large and the organizations within it who might help them;
(2) This improved connection needs to include a discussion about whether a scaled down event — perhaps one that could fit into a park closer to the main areas of Drive and, maybe, include a lantern parade along the Drive — might be a better idea. at least until finances improve;
(3) The community needs to show that we really want this event back in our own neighbourhood. We need to connect with PD when they approach us and we must be willing to put a few dollars into the pot when asked.
I sure hope we can pull this off because I really miss that midsummer magic!