Fayetteville will donate $15,000 to pay for the dogwood festival, despite concerns from some city council members about the variety of entertainment at the event.
The Board decided to provide funding by a vote of 9 to 1 in a working meeting on Monday. The board asked Sarah Grace Snipes, the festival’s executive director, to develop an action plan for how the festival would address the board’s concerns.
Councilwoman Shakayla Ingram voted against a proposal made by Pro Tem Mayor Katie Jensen.
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Snipes informed the board that the festival was having cash flow problems. She said the organization is still paying for this year’s dogwood festival, which took place in April.
“I promise you that I will not let the Dogwood Festival close its doors, but I want my suppliers to pay because they are great partners for the Dogwood Festival,” she said.
Snipes said the money would go towards paying for this year’s event, not into the organization’s savings account. The festival costs about $296,000 and brought in about $303,000, she said.
These funds are separate from the organization’s operational needs and the grants it receives, Snipes said.
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Mayor Mitch Colvin said he was concerned about the variety of entertainment at the festival. He said the action at the event should reflect the city.
Several council members made similar statements.
“I would like to see more mix and more variety in entertainment,” board member Larry Wright said.
This year’s festival featured a night of rock, a night of country music and a radio-sponsored Prince Tribute show, Colvin said.
“What are you doing to appeal to the diversity of the community with your lineup?” he said.
Snipes said about $25,000 was set aside for each night. She said she would like to move on to a different genre of music, but she wasn’t sure the festival would have enough money to add another night.
Colvin asked how it was determined that rock and country was always two nights.
“To my knowledge, this is what the Dogwood Festival has historically done,” Snipes said.
Colvin then asked how Snipes plans to diversify the event.
Snipes said she would like to hear what the community wants to see. She said she wants the festival to be inclusive and welcoming.
“I am always open,” she said. “I want to change the organization.”
Snipes said she thought about how the festival could change. She said she spoke with current and former board members about the matter.
“You shouldn’t be saving every year worrying about cash flow, worrying about whether wages will be paid,” she said.
The festival is stuck in a cycle in part because the executive director is the only full-time employee, Snipes said. She said the organization might want to consider hiring someone else and adding another night to the festival.
“We need these things to be a sustainable organization,” she said.
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