Fayetteville will give $15,000 to help pay for the Dogwood Festival despite concerns from some City Council members about the diversity of entertainment at the event.
The council decided to provide the funding by a 9-1 vote at a work session on Monday. The council asked Sarahgrace Snipes, the festival’s executive director, to develop a plan of action for how the festival will deal with the council’s concerns.
Councilwoman Shakeyla Ingram voted against the motion, which was made by Mayor Pro Tem Kathy Jensen.
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Snipes told the council that the festival faces cash flow issues. She said the organization is still paying for this year’s Dogwood Festival, which was held in April.
“I promise you I won’t let the doors close on the Dogwood Festival, but I want to get my vendors paid because they are excellent partners of the Dogwood Festival,” she said.
Snipes said the money will be used to pay for this year’s event rather than having to dip into the organization’s savings account. The festival costs about $296,000 and brought in about $303,000, she said.
Those funds are separate from the organization’s operational requirements and grants it receives, Snipes said.
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Mayor Mitch Colvin said he has concerns about the diversity of entertainment at the festival. He said the acts at the event need to reflect the city.
Several council members made similar statements.
“I would like to see a greater blend and a greater diversity in the entertainment,” Councilman Larry Wright said.
This year the festival had a rock night, a country night and a Prince Tribute show sponsored by a radio station, Colvin said.
“What are you doing to speak to the diversity of the community with your lineup?” he said.
Snipes said about $25,000 was set aside for each night. She said she’d like to expand to another type of music, but she wasn’t sure the festival had enough money to add another night.
Colvin asked how it was determined that rock and country are always two of the nights.
“To my knowledge, that’s what Dogwood Festival has historically done,” Snipes said.
Colvin then asked how Snipes planned to make the event more diverse.
Snipes said she’d like to hear what the community would like to see. She said she wants the festival to be inclusive and welcoming.
“I am always open,” she said. “I want to be the change for the organization.”
Snipes said she has been thinking about how the festival can change. She said she has spoken to current and former board members about the issue.
“It shouldn’t be penny-pinching every single year, worrying about cash flow, worrying if, personally, payroll is going to go through,” she said.
The festival is stuck in a cycle, in part, because the executive director is the only full-time employee, Snipes said. She said the organization might want to consider hiring someone else and adding another night to the festival.
“We need those things to be a sustainable organization,” she said.
Local news editor Steve DeVane can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.