Matthews town commissioners said Monday, March 25 they won’t let tough economic times impact the annual Matthews Alive! Festival.
Commissioners approved a $45,000 funding request from festival organizers – more than triple the amount the town gave to the festival in 2011. The money is needed, organizers said, because festival sponsorships are down. The festival, which raises money for local nonprofits, runs each Labor Day weekend in downtown Matthews.
“Our sponsorship dollars have decreased substantially since 2007 with the economic downturn. We are working hard to generate sponsorship dollars, while our volunteer board also focuses on the many facets of the festival production,” Executive Director Lee Anne Moore and festival chairperson Barbara Cody said in a letter to commissioners.
The $45,000 Matthews agreed to give is more than triple the amount the town gave to the festival in 2011. Last year, the town agreed to give a bit more – $36,750 total – to the festival because they hoped the event would attract visitors from the Democratic National Convention. The money will come from the town’s tourism fund, which is supported by hotel and motel occupancy and prepared-food and beverage taxes.
Some commissioners questioned the festival’s request for the increase in financial support from the town.
“I just think that there’s room for compromise in the middle … I think that more than tripling it (since 2011) is not necessarily reasonable without explanation,” Commissioner Jeff Miller said.
Mayor Jim Taylor urged commissioners to consider the festival’s impact on the town as well as what tourism dollars are meant to support.
“Matthews Alive is by far the largest, best event, the most exposure this town has throughout the entire year … one item that I don’t think anyone would argue when using tourism dollars for would be Matthews Alive,” he said.