A new signature event is in the works for next September and the Resort Municipality of Whistler has officially accepted a proposal for its development from two consultant groups.
Interplay Marketing out of Vancouver and the Victoria-based Fan Tan Group submitted the joint bid to develop a fall festival through a municipal request for proposal (RFP) process in September.
Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said the RFP process closed on Oct. 5 and the consultants were chosen out of seven bids to develop the concept or theme of the event, plus a business plan, that considers community feedback.
“It is going to be development of the concept and designing the program and the business plan, but the actual production of the event will be handled by someone else,” Wilhelm-Morden said. “The festivals program this summer was very successful and to the extent that we can continue to drive room nights through that program is really good and, of course, exciting.
“The idea is to have a new festival in the later part of the summer. Really, it will be the last weekend of summer and there are a lot of possibilities there.”
The mayor said the 2013 event is being developed for the weekend after GranFondo and the expectation is that it would be held annually once developed.
“We are hoping that as the festival occurs year after year (and) its dependence upon RMI funding reduces every year, so we will help fund it in its first year, but with a view to it getting more and more on its own feet as years go by,” she said.
The $25,000 to develop the event came from the Festivals Events & Animation program budget. But the funds to produce the event, which so far does not have an official name, will be determined as part of the annual FE&A planning process.
Once the concept is ready, the mayor said it will come before the FE&A committee for review and approval.
Fan Tan Group CEO Tyl Van Toorn said Mike Taylor from Interplay initially approached him to jointly submit the bid. Both have a long history of producing events in Whistler like the Telus Ski and Snowboard Festival, FIS World Snowboard Championships and Crankworx.
Van Toorn said he was inspired by the idea that the community of Whistler, through the RMOW’s RFP process, was putting resources towards developing an engagement structure and process for establishing a new destination event.
“In many respects, communities, and municipalities in these communities, tend to feel they have the internal knowledge base to develop this stuff and it would be very understandable in Whistler to feel that way,” he said, noting the world-class events that are already produced in the resort. “To feel they wanted to undertake a process that would bring in expertise that would not only understand the event world but the design process world … was appealing and gave me a sense there is a certain amount of intent in the community.”
Van Toorn said, going forward, the idea is to develop a process that involves as many stakeholders as possible to help determine the event’s evolution, and have the community co-design a thoughtful business plan.
“The objective is to come out with a powerful concept that is financially viable and appropriate to Whistler’s reputation,” he said.
Wilhelm-Morden said the impetus for developing a signature event for that time of year is to extend Whistler’s traditional summer season and increase room nights and visitation as a result.