Festivals stand to benefit from new policy in Smiths Falls

April 19, 2017 by

Healthy Living FestivalThe town of Smiths Falls hasn’t really had a clear festival and events policy until now.

“It’s really just an extension of the Community Grant Policy,” said Art Manhire, Director of Community Services and author of the new policy.

The guidelines will govern the funding of event based activities for residents and tourists that are delivered by community groups.  They attempt to bring equity and transparency to the process of accessing public funds while encouraging organizers to step up to deliver meaningful events, that benefit the whole community.

“Council wants to see investment in tourism and economic development so in order to do that we want to have organizers align their initiatives with bringing people to the community,” said Manhire.

Smiths Falls currently sets aside one per cent of property tax revenues to support community organizations and events under the Community Grants Policy.

“The Festival and Events Policy and the Community Donations policy present a means by which decisions can be made to align the investment made with the anticipated outcome of enhancing these initiatives,” wrote Manhire in his report to council.

In the meantime the town is working on capturing the value of in-kind support that is currently being given to events and festivals  so that a dollar value can be factored in during the 2018 budget deliberations.

“Adding a dollar value of in-kind contributions right now would drastically lower the funds available to community organizations,” said Manhire.

Since the policy is still new, it’s still a work in progress and will continue to be refined to align with the town’s strategic priorities.

“So as we refine this policy we could say we want a cornerstone events and we don’t have a Fall event for the community for instance.  So we could take some of the resources that we allocated to festivals and events and say there will be funding for a Fall event, if someone wants to organize it.  That way we get to see the greatest value for our priorities as a town and use our resources to leverage something that benefits the entire community.