Letter to the community: Festival clarifies port, BACA issues

By Dolores Maillet, Jo Mochulski and Sheila Curtis, Festival of the Arts May 04, 2011 05:00 am

History with the Port

The Festival of the Arts was started in 1993 as a Chetco Village Merchant Event. No Port fees were charged. Between 1997 and 2006, the Festival donated over $6,000 to the Port in the form of material items such as the original stage, picnic tables, doggie bag dispensers, holiday and summer flags for the parking lot, and feather flags for the retail entrances. Up until 2006 the Port and the Festival worked together as partners. In 2006, due to economic conditions at the Port, festival fees became an issue. The Festival of the Arts was the only festival asked to pay Port fees of $350 that year. In 2007, the Southern Oregon Kite Festival, the Festival of the Arts, and the Slam’n Salmon Ocean Derby all threatened to cancel their Festivals. It took 3 ½ months for negotiations to be completed before a five- year agreement covering, 2007 through 2011 was reached. The outcome was successful due to the fact that all festivals met directly with the Port Director and assigned Commissioners.  Articles regarding this period can be found in the archives of the Curry Coastal Pilot and The Daily Triplicate. Since 2007 the Festival has paid a four-day fee per the agreement beginning with $400 in 2007 and scheduled for $800 in 2011.

In addition to the agreement, for any event to take place at the Port, the Port requires an application be submitted for approval, along with proof of insurance, $200 security deposit, and the fee. For 17 years the application has been signed and returned within a few days.

Many years ago, at the Port’s request, the Festival was asked to provide a list of Port and Festival responsibilities to be used as a checklist for the Harbormaster. This has always been submitted one month before the Festival directly to the Harbormaster. The essentials of this checklist have not changed over the years. This year, on April 4, Mr. Fitzgerald requested the checklist be submitted directly to him. It was submitted to him April 6th.

In April we obtained the minutes of the January 18 Port Commission meeting during which festivals and fees were discussed. Mr. Fitzgerald was under the impression the agreement with the festivals ended in 2010 rather than 2011. He stated he met with the Kite Festival and they may be charged a lower fee because they required less work than another festival. January 18th minutes, covering discussion of “Strategy of Events” is available from the Port.

On April 15, after the Festival was cancelled, the Festival of the Arts received a letter from Mr. Fitzgerald stating we would need to pay an additional $200 (total of $1,000 this year), abide by the Port’s new management policy regarding festivals (of which we have no knowledge), and he returned our $200 security deposit.  Mr. Fitzgerald stated he would keep our weekend open for 15 days. The Festival was to let him know if we were able to remain at the Port this year.  Mr. Fitzgerald’s’ subsequent involvement with Brookings Area Council for the Arts (BACA) escalated the situation.


Relationship with BACA

Our relationship with BACA was initiated in 1996. It was necessary for the Festival of the Arts to become a separate entity and obtain our own insurance because two of the three Festival co-chairs were not Port merchants.  Les Cohen, President of BACA and Chamber of Commerce President and CEO, was approached to see if the Festival could come under the BACA umbrella organization. This arrangement is common with many art councils throughout the country; in fact there are currently three other local community organizations operating in the same manner with BACA. For the past 14 years, our only responsibility was to submit a yearly profit and loss statement to BACA. We never met with BACA: received no input or directions from them; they did not participate in any of our decisions; they were never involved with the Port/Festival issues in 2007; did not indicate a problem with our canceling this year’s Festival when we informed Mr. Cohen April 14 he would need to remove our event from the Chamber calendar.

On April 18 our chairperson received a phone message from BACA stating the Festival of the Arts would take place and either the Festival assist BACA to put on a Festival we can all be proud of or we would be replaced with a new committee and all records were to be turned over to BACA by 5 p.m. April 21. At the April 19 public Port Commission meeting, Mr. Fitzgerald announced he spent time over the weekend investigating the relationship between BACA and the Festival of the Arts. He stated, the Festival of the Arts will take place and they have been asked to turn over their records by 5 p.m. April 21.  Our existing cooperative relationship with BACA turned into an authoritarian one. BACA never met with us to discuss the issue. After BACA’s ultimatum, we felt seeking legal advice was necessary to protect the Festival of the Arts’ name, reputation, intellectual property, and to maintain the confidentiality of our artisans. The Festival of the Arts’ records have not been turned over to BACA. Our question is, did Mr. Fitzgerald pressure BACA to force us to either have the Festival or turn over our records? BACA’s bylaws are available through Les Cohen.