This column is being published before the start of the CRAWFEST scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Betty Virginia Park. Thus the comments herein are not related to the "success" of the festival from the economic perspective. And unfortunately this author has no control over the weekend’s weather which undoubtedly be a major factor in CRAWFEST attendance.
The request for the organizers of CRAWFEST for city support of the festival certainly turned over a bee hive. And like most instances that point out the need for review, it takes a major hiccup to cause change.
The city council should review, in toto, criteria for providing funding—either directly or indirectly—of events held in the city. And for that matter outside the city.
Direct funding is defined as city dollars being paid directly to the requesting entity. An example is Shreveport funding of $50,000 of the Miss USA pageants last summer. Last year funding was approved for a non-profit that fails to disclose financial information on payment of its officers.
Indirect funding is defined as city agencies providing services at no charge. This includes approximately $30,000 for SPAR and police services provided, no charge, for the Miss USA pageants. These include Shreveport Parks & Recreation (SPAR) providing tables, chairs and barricade along with "free’ use of festival plaza. It also includes police and fire personnel at no charge—and clean up after the events.
The Gemini and Centaur Mardi Gras parades this year were supported by approximately $100,000 by the city for in-kind , no charge, services. Other parades for krewes and special groups also cost money for clean up, barricades, and police/fire support.
At the most recent council meeting SPAR assistance was approved for a triathlon to be held in Bossier Parish by a Shreveport business. It also included SPAR assistance to a local church.
As part of the discussion, the realities of "for profit" and "non profit" organizations should be examined. Too many "non profits" spend substantial portions of donated funds on staffing versus services to the community.
In the "good ole" days when the city had more bucks, decisions on providing city support for events was a non issue. These days are gone—and in fact have been gone for several years.
A public dialogue is needed. When the council gets past the garbage fee debate, this issue should take a high priority.