After giving $45,000 to various events earlier this month, TourMark brought its total summer event funding to $212,000 after Wednesday’s meeting. The total exceeds its dealings last year which totaled $200,000.
The largest dollar amount in funding went to the Brand Leadership Team for $75,000, allowing the group to continue promoting and enhancing the “It’s Happening Here” brand throughout the summer Rail City events. Hot August Nights, a newcomer to the TourMark funding cycle, received $30,000 for its upcoming event, which committee member Stephen Ascuaga said will bring excellent “exposure” for Sparks and the surrounding areas.
“I think the marketing and advertising piece that is going to come along with this auction company is going to be huge on many different levels,” Tony Marini, executive director of Hot August Nights, said in a presentation to TourMark on April 9. “It is going to be able to market both cities, the event and introduce the United States to Reno again on a more positive note. We are going to be looked at as a major destination for the car world.”
TourMark chose to fund John Ascuaga’s Nugget the same amount it was funded the previous year for both Star Spangled Sparks and Best in the West. However, the exact funding amount is unclear due to lack of paperwork available to the committee at Wednesday’s meeting. Chairman Ron Schmitt said the minutes from last year’s meeting would need to be reviewed before the official dollar amount could be decided. Last year’s funding for the rib cook-off was about $30,000 and the Nugget requested $20,000 for Star Spangled Sparks this year.
The Watercross event held at Sparks Marina will return for a second year and was granted $20,000 from TourMark while some new events received funding for the first time. Pumpkin Palooza, a Halloween-themed event on Victorian Plaza, was awarded $10,000 by the committee after realizing the event operated without much of a budget in 2012.
“They didn’t have a budget for marketing last year and they relied so much on public relations but none of it was there own,” Tracy Domingues, Sparks Parks and Rec director, said.
Roadshows, Inc. received $15,000 for its Street Vibrations Fall Rally which brings the organization’s total to $30,000 between the spring and fall rallies. That equals the total it received last year. The Reno News and Review received $7,500 for an event taking place during Artown in July, which capped the new events seeking funding from TourMark. The committee also funded The Chamber for its Star Spangled Sparks event in the amount of $10,000, contingent on what a year-long membership to The Chamber costs. Negotiations between the two entities are ongoing to discuss final funding numbers.
Prior to discussing allocation of funds for the event season, TourMark heard from Parks and Rec Events Manager Francine Burge, who drafted an outline of agreements, applications and reporting measures for TourMark to ensure efficiency in working with event organizers.
The sample Host City Sponsorship provides event producers with what the City of Sparks will provide, which includes number of hotel room nights, marketing and promotion and volunteer staff to name a few. Event organizers would also be required to follow the listed procedures in order to gain city sponsorship and support, which includes post-event reporting.
“I think what we have now could be improved upon because we could be asking better questions that more align with the goals of the TourMark Committee,” Burge said. “It is really open ended and it allows the producers to shine, which is great, but it doesn’t ask the key questions about market, out of market and some of the other things brought up. I took at this as a way to not only improve your funding decisions but also to help produce a variety of events, whether they are long term or newer.”
The sample post-event reporting document requires event producers partnering with the City of Sparks to record: an event synopsis, including number of vendors, entertainment, participants and attendees; tourism impact, denoting any hotel partners, room block size and the number of nights spent by guests; marketing breakdown, describing the outlets used for advertising and the dollar value attached to each; volunteer numbers with the days and hours worked by volunteers.
“I think it has always been the unwritten rule that TourMark funds were being used for marketing and promotion,” Domingues said to the committee, “And that is where I think the committee could be stronger with the post-event reporting. They need to tell you how they spend those dollars because we don’t know that. Are they turning around and using that money to reimburse city service costs or are they really using it to promote the event?”
Burge said the documents presented Wednesday were “a very very rough draft” and she was asked by the committee to continue developing documents for final approval.