Vail events board wants more accountability |

Vail events board wants more accountability

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado
Daily file photo

VAIL, Colorado – The town of Vail’s Commission on Special Events is changing the way it allocates funds to event producers in 2013 by making event producers more accountable.

The Commission on Special Events and the Vail Local Marketing District Advisory Council met last Thursday to talk about the commission’s $768,500 budget for 2013, which will help fund nearly 30 special events in Vail. Some events that received funding in 2012, such as the Tour of Vail cycling event, the Vail “Living Well” Summit and the Season of Song, are not getting funding from the commission next year.

The commission is no longer going to write checks and simply wait for the recap of an event’s success, said Kelli McDonald, the town of Vail’s economic development director.

“There’s more direction (now) from the (commission) on where the money goes. Now we’re going to say we want this money directed to marketing or to a new event,” she said. “There’s more oversight and certainly more strategy now on how that money is allocated and ultimately how it’s used.”

The discussion centered around the marketing of events in the town of Vail. Some events that seemed like they should have been home runs failed to deliver last year. Some of those failures could be the result of the commission not helping, said Jenn Bruno, a commission board member.

“The (commission’s) approach for funding now is not as sponsors, but as partners,” Bruno said. “We’re setting a framework this year to make sure we have optimal success for each event. … We want to make each event better. We realize there are many events that haven’t reached their potential.”

The Soul Music Festival, for example, is an event with great talent that was sparsely attended, said Adam Sutner, who is working as a consultant for the commission.

“Everyone agrees it’s a great product and idea, but it was marginally executed,” Sutner said. “We’re going back to them with a fairly blunt stipulation that they work more closely with us from a marketing standpoint.”

The Tour of Vail was a first-time event last summer that the commission has decided not to fund again in 2013. The commission is focusing on the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, instead, and is holding out hope that a Vail stage of that race returns in 2013, Sutner said.

The commission also wants to allocate money to pay a marketing liaison – a town employee who could spend roughly 15 hours a week in order to be the town contact that can help coordinate event promotion with event producers. Town of Vail special events coordinator Sybill Navas said the town hasn’t increased staff since about 2001 while the events calendar has “grown astronomically.”

The Vail Town Council is expected to make the final decision on the commission’s budget at its Dec. 4 meeting. In the mean time, the commission asked that the advisory council write a letter endorsing the commission’s budget to the town council.

Beth Slifer, of the advisory council, told the commission that its new strategy looks promising.

“It sounds like you’re starting to create structure to help (event producers),” Slifer said. “Thank you. We’re all impressed, we really are. This is awesome.”

Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

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