Uptown Live to return

The show will go on.

That’s the message from Uptown Business Association president Bart Slotman, after New Westminster city council approved $28,000 in cash and $20,000 in in-kind services for the Uptown Live festival.

Previously, council had tabled the application, along with one from the Hyack Festival Association and the Pride Society as they sought more information from the applicants.

But, said Coun. Bill Harper, the organizers of Uptown Live need to begin organizing and required a quick decision on funding.

“They’re planning for it and they needed a decision from us,” said Harper. “We want to see it be successful.”

Slotman said with the May festival three months away, his group is behind in booking stages and entertainment. Last year, Uptown Live attracted more than 25,000 people, many between the ages of 16 and 35.

“Ideally it can take six months to book everything,” said Slotman, who met with his team on Thursday to get the organizational wheels in motion. “Three months is sufficient.”

This year’s festival will be bigger, Slotman said, with more food vendors, larger patio areas and better information for visitors. The festival’s budget is $87,000. Musicians, licensing fees and MCs for all three stages will comprise $16,500 of that. Another $30,150 is for event production and $18,000 for event management. Of that, $10,000 will go to Alliance West Sport and Entertainment, a company run by Douglas Smith. Smith helped found Uptown Live when he was the executive director of the Hyack Association. He was fired from Hyack last July. The organization has been in disarray ever since.

“Now that we have the funding, it’s pretty real,” said Slotman. “It’s great the city recognized the value of Uptown Live.”

Other than the city’s grant money, more than half the cash to pay for the event will come from corporate sponsorships. Slotman said most of this is already in place.

“It’s not like we’re starting from scratch,” he said.

But not everyone in council was supportive of Uptown’s application.

Coun. Betty McIntosh said the money was too much for a one-day event.

“That’s something I can’t support,” said McIntosh.

Coun. Jaimie McEvoy also expressed reservations.

“We have to show the same standards when we’re dealing with festivals,” he said, suggesting the Uptown Live organizers present their plans to council in person.


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