ITVFest receives funds
by Mike Eldred
Oct 17, 2013 | 3252 views | 8 8 comments | 161 161 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DOVER- Board members approved $20,000 in funding for the 2014 ITV Festival Tuesday evening, under pressure from event organizer Philip Gilpin and a group of local inn owners.

At issue, at least for selectboard members, was the intended use of the money and the timing of the request – less than a month after the September event, and about six months after the request for the 2013 event. “This is the first time we’ve seen an application for the same event within two or three weeks of the last event,” said board member Vicki Capitani. “Is this money going to pay off this year’s expenses?”

Board members noted, and according to Gilpin’s funding application, that the event was $43,000 in debt at the end of the festival.

Gilpin told board members that he would indeed be using the portion of their funding immediately available (75% under the board’s guidelines, or $15,000) to pay outstanding bills for the 2013 event. Gilpin explained that the event was a “year- round business” and that any sponsorship money “all goes into the same account, it’s a matter of timing.”

In his application, Gilpin said two factors caused the loss: lower than anticipated attendance by locals, and a lower than expected number of VIP passes sold under the festival’s partnership deal with the Hermitage Club. According to his 2014 application, the festival spent more than $20,000 in marketing to local residents. “Barely 75 locals turned out to ITVFest, and most of those only bought a $29 day pass ... generating about $3,000 in total ticket sales.” Gilpin said that the 2013 budget assumed the sale of 50 to 75 VIP passes would be sold to Hermitage Club members. Only 10 showed up, a $30,000 shortfall.

Selectboard chair Randy Terk said he was concerned that the economic development grant for the 2014 event would be spent on expenses incurred for the 2013 festival. “It should be spent on the 2014 event,” he said. “What certainty is there that there will even be a 2014 event? I see no assurances. Will there then be sufficient revenues to support the event next year? The last thing I want to see is that we fund (the 2014 festival) and then find that it can’t happen next year.”

Gilpin said that it was important to receive the funding now, not only to pay current bills, but to be able to interest other sponsors. “It will be difficult to be able to go to any of my sponsors, and the vendors who are looking for their final checks, if the town is hesitating.”

Throughout the discussion, board members expressed their support for the event, and for funding the event with public money.

Gilpin said he was coming to the town first because they were the “greatest recipient of ROI,” or return on investment. According to economic development director Ken Black, and Gilpin’s application, the town would receive $3,300 in local option taxes from a total $330,000 in rooms, meals, and alcohol revenue generated by the 2013 festival. Gilpin referred to the total revenue figure.

The number is based on the state department of tourism’s calculated average of $139.41 spent per person, per night stayed, and the number of out-of-town visitors for the festival. Gilpin said 600 of the 700 visitors were from out of town, and stayed four nights.

But Gilpin said that, if the town were to hesitate and withhold funding until sometime next year, it could stunt the growth of the festival. “The worst thing that could happen would be to press the pause button,” he said. “That would eliminate six months of marketing, and it would compress the actual production into a smaller time frame. We’ll be sitting in June with 200 more submissions, having sold 200 more tickets, and thinking about how much bigger this event could have been if we were in it from the start. If we want this to be everything we want it to be, we have to get the team back into the office. Any hesitation would start to snowball in the wrong direction. This is the first time a major international event has come into Dover and made Dover its home in terms of office space. This is an event that wants to be here, wants to anchor itself here.”

“If this gets funded, do you have letters of commitment from other folks?” asked Terk. “I don’t want to be the only sponsor and have no event.”

Gilpin said he could supply letters, if necessary. But he said initial discussions with sponsors were already positive – not only were the sponsors of the 2013 event in for the same amount or more, but others have expressed interest. The response from everyone involved in the festival, he said, was extremely positive. “The tough part for me is that there’s no way for me to impress upon you the experience of the event for the people who were there. If you experienced it, you would have no hesitation in understanding that you won’t be the only sponsor.”

Former economic development assistant Linda Anelli urged the board to approve the funding, telling them to “trust your gut.” She said she had become a “passionate follower of this young man,” referring to Gilpin, and said if the town approves the expenditure, the worst thing that could happen would be for the board to “have egg on your face for throwing $20,000 down the tubes,” but she was confident that wouldn’t happen. “I think you will be the heroes of this town for having the courage to trust your gut when everything’s telling you not to.”

Capitani said she would have preferred to see an amended 2013 application for additional funding, followed by a “clean” 2014 application for funding to be spent specifically on 2014 expenses. “So everything is up front,” she said.

Gilpin protested that nothing in the application wasn’t “up front.”

Black called it a matter of “semantics,” but Capitani said it would have been a chance to get more economic development funding.

Throughout the discussion, Terk said he expected to see the financial data, which was included in a narrative and handwritten form, in a spreadsheet with year-to-year and estimated vs. actual comparisons. When finally pressed, Gilpin said he had provided the information asked by the economic development director.

“So the application was never updated for the spreadsheet we wanted?” Terk asked Black.

“That’s true,” said Black.

Board member Linda Holland made a motion to approve the $20,000 grant. After a long pause, Capitani seconded the motion. “This really changes the game for a lot of (applications). You lost money this year, and you’re asking for money now so you can pay off this year and go on. I’m concerned that you can’t pay your bills and you’re rushing to us for money with a drop-dead date. I don’t like getting backed into a corner, saying ‘pay me now or it’s done.’ That bothers me. We all support (the festival) but we hate getting pushed into a corner.”

Gilpin told board members that the request and the information in it were the result of consultation with Black, the town’s economic development director. He said he had put his own personal savings into covering the festival debt before asking the town for funding. “I’m the only one here liable to anyone,” he said. “The town, the business owners, they have no skin in this game. I have no hesitation reworking this request and coming back to discuss it again.”

Gilpin appeared to suggest a compromise, a commitment of economic development funding that wouldn’t “hurt the momentum.” But board members eventually approved the motion to grant the original $20,000 request.

In other matters, Dover resident Chris Helmstetter complained that it took too long to receive emergency medical services in town, and suggested that Dover, “being one of the rich towns, giving money right and left, should have its own ambulance service.”

Terk, noting he is an EMT and a 13-year veteran of Deerfield Valley Rescue and a member of the East Dover Rescue squad, said that the problem was getting volunteers. “Don’t sit and bitch, volunteer,” he told Helmstetter. “We have an ambulance service that serves five communities, they could use volunteers, people to step up and become EMTs.”

Helmstetter said he thought the town could hire a professional ambulance service for about $100,000.

“An ambulance costs about $150,000, including all the equipment that’s necessary – that’s for one ambulance,” Terk said. “Then you have all the staffing. It would be great if we could have quicker response times, but it’s a lot more involved than just starting an ambulance service.”

Terk said a private, for-profit ambulance service would need to have a minimum number of calls per year to be profitable, more calls than are generated in Dover annually. But Terk urged Helmstetter to pursue the matter and present a plan to voters. “I think the town would be willing to support something like that if you put together a proposal, bring it to us, and we’ll put it before Town Meeting voters. Get it started.”

Planning commission chair Nicholas Wallaert told board members that Dover’s town plan had expired while the commission was working on revisions. As a result, he said, the town may not be eligible for certain state funding until a plan can be approved, and Act 250 proceedings could be affected. “We had the impression that as long as we were not finished (revising the town plan) we could just go on and the selectboard could pass a motion to readopt (the plan). To cut a long story short, because it expired, we have to go through the process of sending the town plan around to surrounding towns. After 30 days, we can have a hearing, and in another 30 days the selectboard can have another hearing.” After the hearings, the selectboard would be able to adopt the town plan.

Wallaert estimated that the town could have an approved plan in place by December 18. He apologized for the commission’s oversight. “We should have pressed the panic button much earlier,” he said, “and as a consequence, we have no town plan. “

Comments
(8)
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VTLocalPal
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October 26, 2013
Weekend warrior: why don't you save your comments for the local paper where you live! Don't pretend you're a local because you're here two days a week. Did you pay for passes all four days of the film fest for your family? No you just want to preach. You make no sense. how exactly is Mount Snow a bully?! The mountain wasn't even mentioned in the article. Not taking sides in the whole Mount Snow/Hermitage issue. Just saying you make no sense.
weekend warrior
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October 26, 2013
Last time I checked being fired for exercising ones right to freedom of speech is being a bully. Not preaching but protesting the remark about Mr. Gilpin using bullying tactics is unfair. As a long time property owner and TAX PAYER I am entitled to airing my views here like it or not. And yes I did pay for passes. Hope that helps.
VTLocalPal
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October 26, 2013
You still make no sense. Fired for excersising one's right to free speech? What does that have to do with anything especially the film fest? Exactly. It doesn't. You just want an excuse to whine that boo hoo mount snow is a bully boo hoo. Wah. And for someone who begins with a sentence mentioning free speech, Weekend Wuss, it makes even less sense that you claim that it's unfair for Mr. Gilpin's tactics to be labeled bullying. If someone else's opinion differs from yours, they can't express their feelings without you saying it's "unfair". So you can call mount snow a bully but no one else is allowed to refer to Gilpin as a bully, according to you. That makes you a total hypocrite. Haha and here I was just thinking you were an idiot. Silly me. Just because you are a TAX PAYER does not mean you go above and beyond to support the valley. I too am a TAX PAYER, where's my parade?
take_it_down_a_notch
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October 18, 2013
Anybody else find Mr Gilpin's tone ungracious and his tactics heavy handed? Dover select board - good potential for this event, but don't get bullied. If the key to getting economic development funding is simply to pack the room with 10-15 supporters, you're going to have big problems down the road. Making reasonable requests (of a first year event that lost a significant amount of money) before throwing more money at it is perfectly reasonable, wise in fact.
Sox09
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October 19, 2013
As someone who was in attendance at the meeting, as far as ITVFest I believe the state board made the correct decision.

The argument for the funding was perfectly clear when stating what the funds were going towards, and why they were going towards it. In order to have a continuing success, the festival needs the town to actually support it (unlike the lack of local support for this last one - which is where the drop in numbers came from in the first place.)

By the board putting their faith in the festival, they have proven to other sponsors that it is worth the effort. The valley will continue to benefit economically, as proven with this years fest.
weekend warrior
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October 25, 2013
I find some locals to be ungracious. In fact if it wasn't for second home owners like me and festivals like this, the town of Dover would be financially hurt alot more than it already is. Open your minds and hearts to new opportunities for revenue because if you expect Mt. Snow to step it up for this town's economic development, you'll be sorely disappointed. Seems to me the bully around these parts is Mt. Snow and not Mr. Gilpin!
LocalView
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October 25, 2013
Take_it_down_a_notch: I totally, completely agree with everything you have to say. Point (s) well made, sensably too. Glad to see there's at least someone out there with their feet on the ground.

I'm not a big fan of the words "bully" or "bullying" simply for the fact that in our incredibly overly sensative society, these words are grossly over used. However, it does seem as if the Dover Board was, in a way, bullied into granting this money. Without opening a giant can of worms here maybe it would have been smarter to wait on the grant instead of caving right away, it makes no sense. This grant is a total gamble on what appears to be a sinking ship. That being said...

Weekend Warrior: What makes you do special? Other than your sense of entitlement, what do you bring to the table? Just because you are fortunate enough to own a second home doesn't make you a hero. Again what exactly do you do that supports the local economy? Oh and shopping at local stores and eating at local restaurants doesn't count because all of us locals do this and you have labeled us ungracious. My mind and heart are open to new developments. That doesn't mean I need to attend an expensive flop of a weekend event just to be "gracious". Waste of time and money and everyone else seemed to agree, look at the attendance numbers. Forcing this event on the valley isn't going to make it a success. You can't make the locals care about something that has no value or relevance. And how exactly is Mount Snow a bully here? That makes no sense whatsoever! What about the hermatige that promised that its members would buy the vip passes and then no one did?! Neither resort is a bully. That's why I hate that word, because idiots like you over use it to cry wolf. Last time I checked the events like brewfest and dew tour and tough mudder brought in way more revenue to the valley then this flop of a film fest. Sure we need to be open to new ideas for events, but to have any chance at succeeding with the locals there's got to be some sort of relevance. I know a lot of locals from all walks of life and I don't know one person who had any interest in this and I don't blame them! Maybe you should look in the mirror weekend warrior if you want to see an ungracious bully. As you said your second home is here and not your first so don't try to tell locals what to do because a local you are not. And guess what. Without you the valley would be just fine. Probably much better without your sense of entitlement!
weekend warrior
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October 26, 2013
I know, I know. Pay your taxes, spend your money to support our local economy and then GET LOST. Unfortunately I find that attitude becoming more and more popular around here. You keep using the word entitlement which gives the impression you resent those who have more than you do. Don't blame me and don't bite the hand that feeds you. Being rude and unfriendly is a bad image to give people who come here to have fun and spend money. This area would be in big trouble if it wasn't for the "outsiders" like me and my friends (who feel the same way). The sooner you accept that fact, the better. And your nasty remarks about this festival makes it obvious you have no interest in the arts. Guess you can't open your mind to new things when you don't have one. Some of us get a little tired of the "Alcohol" Fests Mt. Snow hosts. Although I'm sure you are in attendance for every one of those!