Vail makes changes to event funding model
The town of Vail takes more of a “what’s in it for me?” approach to event funding.
The city currently spends around $ 2.5 million a year on events large and small, all in an effort to attract more guests to the city. The system is working pretty well, but the funding model will change, if not change.
There will always be large events funded in part by the general city fund, and other events controlled and aided by the Vail Commission on Special Events.
Vail’s Director of Economic Development Mia Vlaar recently told Vail City Council that the system from now on will look at when and when events best serve the city’s goals.
Vlaar said city officials can better mitigate the impacts of events with a greater level of control over when these events occur.
“Nothing really goes away,” said Vlaar, adding that the new model gives event promoters a better idea of what the city is looking for and what other goals officials hope to achieve.
Vlaar added “We don’t want to interrupt things too much.”
The changes are driven by a handful of city goals.
The former complements the city’s still developing “destination stewardship” plan, which will seek to balance economic development with livability and sustainability.
The other goal is to work more towards an event funding “sponsorship” model. Jeremy Gross of Vail’s Economic Development Office told council members that those seeking funding in the future will need to meet city-set goals for how an event benefits the city and its residents.
“We don’t just bring more and more,” said Managing Director Scott Robson. “We are improving the quality of events.
These events will run for 12 months in collaboration with the city’s Discover Vail website. This site can collect visitor data and help develop what Vlaar has called a “one-on-one” relationship with guests.
Council members seemed impressed with the idea.
Council member Kevin Foley said it was time for that kind of effort.
“You look (Labor Day weekend) to see that sometimes we can hit critical mass,” Foley said.
While return on investment is a crucial part of the city’s contributions to events, Mayor Dave Chapin noted that metrics are not everything. And, he added, that comeback might not happen in the first year or two of a new event.
But new events, or at least improved tracking, may provide data for the future.
Gross noted that as larger funding requests evolve, the city’s popular “ambient” entertainment is falling outside the purview of the Events Council. These events, including music in the village, astronomy nights and family events, were significant in the summer of 2020 and the following ski season.
Vlaar said the experience gave officials a good idea of when and where these ambient events were taking place.
While these small events will always be scattered across town and across the calendar, Chapin said he prefers large events that focus on quality over quantity.
“It’s like skiing in Vail,” he says.