Sustanability is defined as being economically independent of subsidies.
During the town's budget process there are a handfull of organizations that approach council for hand outs.
Those that do so year after year should expected to be under greater scrutiny. The Aurora Festival of the Arts (or A-farts for short) is now firmly in that group.
I was in attendance on Monday November 28th during the public information session for the town of Aurora's 2012 budget and presented an issue I had with the town's aquisiton, operation and projected continued use of a SMART Car.
When I finished my presentation none other than Susan Morton-Leonard approached the microphone to ask the town to subsidize the Aurora Jazz+/- festival which they are planning to run in the 2012 year.
I stuck around to hear her justifications.
Mrs. Morton Leonard was asking for everthing from the use of town signs and advertising, the use of the town's logo for promotional purposes and a waiving of fees.
And why wouldn't they, after all as Morton-Leonard decreed the festival brings "awareness" to local charities and "exposure" to the town. neither of which were quantifyable but Morton-Leonard did suggest that the A-farts were investigating "tools" to measure such things.
When questioned by Clr. Buck if Mrs Morton Leonard felt the festival would ever be self-sufficient, she responded by saying proudly that the A-Farts were a "non-profit" organization and that they held a $0 ballance.
Which Clr. Buck pointed out that in their October report to the town isn't true.
The organization held back $5,000 (the same amount they asked from the town in 2011) which I don't understand that is something a non-profit organization is allowed to do in their book-keeping.
Book-keeping seems to be an issue that has plagued the festival in the past and one where there is bound to be more questions in the interest of openess and transparency.
In an attempt to gain more clarity on exactly how the festival dispensed its funds Clr. Pirri asked if as a Festival Director George St, Kitts was compensated. Morton-Leonard eluded to an honorarium he was paid but failed to elaborate.
Clr. Thompson inquired as to the October report in which $150,000 of revenue was outlined.
Morton-Leonard again stated that "we do not hold back money" , to which she immediately answered "we held back a small amount" referencing the $5,000.
Clr. Thompson inquired if the A-Farts had investigated a different location due to the "sucess" that they have enjoyed, pointing out the issues with the current venue at Town Park.
Morton-Leonard stated that there was no intention in changing the venue.
She explained that the neighbors to the town park enjoy the festival (which is not what I hear), that there is a "heritage" element the festival provides (non existant from my viewpoint) and the location "helps" the downtown core, again without any metrics to back up that claim.
Morton_Leonard added that Town Park provides a certain "ambiance" that other parks do not.
Clr. Thompson also inquired if Morton-Leonard ever saw a time when the festival would be free, or when such time that fences wouldn't be needed.
Morton_Lenoard asserted that the fences do more than keep people out, that they served as a "safety device" and provided security for the assets at the festival (staging, vendors).
She had nothing to say about how the fences do keep people out, or how it is done in comparison to the much more sucessful town run event Ribfest at Machell Park.
When questioned about attendance fees Morton-Leonard was evasive. She refused to speak to the festival in 2010 as it wasn't run by A-Farts, even though she was involved.
So much for openess and transparency.
Clr. Pirri had concerns about how the festival's acts were "paid to scale". He asked Ms. Morton-Leonard how much the honorarium was to George St. Kitts and she responded that it was $1,200. She then added some nonsense about $ often being donated back to the festival or charities or something as if it had anything to do with the accounting.
It was Morton-Leonard's contention that in order to grow the festival it "had to become non-profit" so as not to burden the town.
To get the $ it needs it has applied for several grants.
The A-Farts recognize they cannot qualify for the Trillum grant they received last year, and plan to continue on regardless of the lack of funding and without the town's subsidies of required.
Clr. Gallo asked exactly what "services in kind" it was the A-Farts were asking for, Morton-Leonard laid it out as this:
– use of the town's logo
– advertising on the town's website
– use of electronic and non electronic signs displayed around the town
– waiving of the fees for the use of town park ($975+)
I'm supprised the A-farts didn't ask to be included in the town's list of those in need:http://www.e-aurora.ca/app/wa/mediaEntry?mediaEntryId=59196
When asked if she recognized the $ value of what she was asking for she said she did not.
Really, you don't know the value of the services or the impact on the town of Aurora for what you are asking. How ignorant, how sad and how entitled.
Clr. Thompson asked about the money that was held for the purposes of advertising, how it was spent and if the use of the town's logo was already inplace in advance of authorization from the town.
Morton-Leonard assured that no logo was used and the advertising in question appears to be this: http://ontariofestivalfinder.ontariofestivalsvisited.ca/events/view/aurora-jazz-festival
In which the date, location and price were already set.
The mentality of "build it and they will come" seems to be the business model the A-Farts have rallied around.
They are expecting the town to subsidize them, and seem to be offended at the thought of becoming self-sufficient or that it should even be asked of them.
The following tweet showed up on Chris Ballard's twatter feed on Nov 28th:
"Thank you Aurora Jazz+ Festival volunteers. Sorry you were treated so shabbily at Council. Some here just can't let go and move on."
Methinks a more than appropriate a response to this tweet is another Calvin&Hobbes strip:
The only ones that can't "let go and move on" appear to be the A-Farts themselves.
To do that they would need to be sustainable, and even though it would do wonders for their self-esteem it's obviously just too much hard work.
It's so much easier for them to smile and waive.
The town will take care of the rest, right?