Festival all shook up over booking conflict

Just as Penticton’s Elvis Festival prepares for its 10th anniversary, concerns are being raised about rising costs that may put the festival on uncertain financial footing.

Just as Penticton’s Elvis Festival prepares for its 10th anniversary, concerns are being raised about rising costs that may put the festival on uncertain financial footing.

The problem stems from the festival’s move to the larger venue of the South Okanagan Events Centre, a move which Richard Frick, a member of the Elvis Festival Society board, said was not by their choice.

“We had an agreement for the use of the Trade and Convention Centre until 2012,” said Frick. The agreement predates the SOEC and the hiring of Global Spectrum to manage both facilities for the city.

“Last year, they informed us the facility had been double-booked and we were being pushed out of the facility into the events centre,” said Frick, adding that they were notified as they were in the midst of putting together last year’s festival.

That left the society in a scramble, having already lost a couple of their major sponsors, said Frick. That left them with more than $6,000 to make up, and now they were facing increased rental costs as well as higher charges for audio equipment and charges for the IATSE Union crew to put it into place.

“The festival is a not-for-profit charity. Every year we make a donation to a worthy local charity, such as Agur Lake Camp,” said Frick, who is hoping to recruit new sponsors from the business community for the festival.

“We’re looking at a minimum posted deficit of $8,000. More than likely, it will be in the $15,000 range,” said Frick, explaining that society board members were informed during a meeting with Global Spectrum representatives that the IATSE costs alone could reach $10,000.

“We’re doing our best to mitigate the impact,” said Dean Clarke, general manager for Global Spectrum. “There is certainly some history about the bookings at the PTCC that we inherited when we took over the contract. We’re working diligently on the costs for the 10-year anniversary.”

Clarke said the SOEC will not make any profit from this year’s event, charging only “bare bones” expenses.

“Everything is being waived that could be revenue for us. We understand how important this 10-year anniversary is,” said Clarke.

Penticton Coun. Mike Pearce, who helped to found the Elvis Festival, was surprised to find there was trouble. He thought the board was satisfied with the deal for the SOEC.

“Near as I am able to determine from Dean, we thought they were all happy,” said Pearce. “We’re taken aback by whatever has happened here.”

The problem with booking the convention centre dates back some time, according to Pearce, who said the commitment to the other group was made several years ago, and that it is common practice for events to book well ahead.

“This is overbooking prior to Global Spectrum’s management assignment, and apparently the Elvis Festival agrees,” he said. “They (the Elvis Festival) may have moved their weekend into this and nobody cottoned onto it until we were closing in on the event.”

Even with the fees reduced, Pearce admitted there was a cost increase, but part of it is out of Global Spectrum’s control, referring to the IATSE union charges.

Pearce said that among other things, they’ve offered free marketing support through the SOEC. The venue itself will be able to seat about double the number of the convention centre.

“They are in a better facility, a bigger facility, and we are offering marketing support to try and drive up their ticket sales for them,” said Pearce, adding he hadn’t had an aid request for the festival.

“I don’t remember seeing this … it might have just been a letter asking for extra money without going into detail,” said Pearce. “We are prepared to weigh the circumstances and make a decision at the council level after we have talked to the society board more privately again.”