City agrees to fund summer talent contest
The City of Merritt has agreed to fund Burst-into-Site’s proposed “Clash of the Talents” contest, which will span a six-week period this summer.
The entertainment event plan, submitted by Anthony and Christine Abraria who own the home-based company Burst-into-Site, outlines a four-round talent contest geared towards generating opportunities for locals to showcase their talents.
Though the Abraria’s proposal was the only response to the City’s Entertainment in Merritt call for proposals, at the June 26 council meeting most councillors were optimistic the project would generate community interest and approved the project and the $10,000 from the City Initiative Funds budgeted for the program.
Coun. Alastair Murdoch, however, voted against the proposal and said he didn’t feel that the contest was worth $10,000.
“I appreciate [the Abraria’s] enthusiasm, but this concerns me in a number of ways that have nothing to do with the people proposing it,” he said. “I don’t like the direction this is headed — last year we got 16 events for less than $10,000.”
In 2011 two separate groups organized the summer concert series known as Music in the Park (at Rotary Park) and Music in the City (at Spirit Square). For 2012, council decided to combine the two events and expand the focus to include other forms of entertainment and a variety of venues. Council offered up to $10,000 for the program — $2,000 more than the summer music series budgets combined last year.
Clash of the Talents will include six shows from July 28 to Sept. 1, which will be hosted at several local venues.
During last Tuesday’s discussion, Coun. Norgaard said council was prepared to pay for entertainment and added that the event could help to rebuild Merritt’s community spirit.
“If we’re calling for a proposal, we have to expect there will be dollars spent,” she said. “We have Spirit Square and Rotary Park and it would be a shame to leave them sitting there.”
But Murdoch said paying for an event formerly organized by volunteers would set a precedent for future events.
“Are we now going to pay people to do the Christmas parade because no one wants to volunteer?” he said.
Economic Development Manager James Umpherson said the request for proposal had been advertised since March and the Abrarias were the first to submit anything though he had approached several groups about organizing a summer entertainment program.
“We approached three different groups and they all said they didn’t have the volunteer base,” said Mayor Susan Roline. “The reason we wanted to put money towards this was to make sure Spirit Square and Rotary Park don’t sit idle.”
Coun. Dave Baker said he appreciated Anthony’s passion for the project and said he would like to “give it a shot.”
Murdoch was the only councillor to vote against the proposal, though Coun. Mike Goetz and Coun. Harry Kroeker were not present at the meeting.
The first talent performance is scheduled for July 28 at Spirit Square. For more information contact email@example.com.