The Maneater

‘Signature’ local festivals and programs receives $80,000 to aid local tourism

Recipients included the True/False Film Fest, Show-me State Games and Art in the Park.

Ragtag Cinema hosts various films for the True/False Film Fest which brings in revenue for the city of Columbia. Photo by Photographer Lilly Anna Brinson

CORRECTION: A prior version of this article referenced Jody Mitori as the development director of Redtag Film Society. The Maneater regrets this error.

Several local festivals and programs will receive $80,000 from the City of Columbia through the Tourism Development Program for the purpose of attracting more tourists to the area.

The program is an annual budget funded by the lodging tax, said Megan McConachie, strategic communication manager of the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The lodging tax was established in 1999 to provide financial support to enhance and develop attractions, festivals and events that have potential to attract visitors from outside the local market and generate overnight visitation in Columbia hotels, according to the Convention and Visitors Bureau website.

McConachie said this is one of the four categories funded by the tax. The other three include festivals, events and sports development as well as attractions and community sponsorship.

She said the Signature Series events funding is specifically for established events such as True/False Film Fest, Roots N Blue N BBQ Festival, Art in the Park and more. Start-up events are funded through the festivals, events and sports development funding which is under the same program as the Signature Series funding. These start-up events can apply for the Signature Series funding after three years.

In 2019, The True/False Film Fest, the Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival and the Show-Me State Games will each receive $20,000, while Art in the Park and the MU Concert Series will each receive $10,000, according to reporting done by the Columbia Missourian.

The True/False Film Fest has been sponsored by Convention Visitors Bureau since the year it started.

“It has a strong tie to [MU],” McConachie said. “Some of the venues are on campus, a lot of students are involved in different film programs.”

The funding makes it possible for them to bring in more filmmakers and to help make the festival more diverse and international, said Jody Mitori, development director of Ragtag Film Society and the True/False Film Fest.

“Last year, we had filmmakers from all over the world, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Romania, China, Russia,” Mitori said. “We really want to bring people from all over the world.”

She said filmmakers have a lot of opportunities to engage with the audience and help with education programs by talking to young filmmakers.

The festival creates a platform where filmmakers and audience have a chance to talk about the latest film, music and art in person, whether it’s during the venue or in a local cafe, said Mitori.

“We are so grateful for the grant and it’s a cool opportunity to highlight Columbia,” Mitori said. “There are so many things [that will happen] that will bring people who probably will not come to the city otherwise.”

McConachie said the signature events reapply for funding each year. One of the key components in application evaluation is anticipating how many people may end up spending the night in local hotel rooms during these events.

”The advisory board put these applications into tiers, and each tier is awarded a significant amount of funding,” McConachie said.

Tracy Lane, the festival director of Roots N Blues N BBQ festival, said the application process is straightforward. She said she always has a positive experience in her interactions with the Convention Visitors Bureau staff over her 20 plus years of experience working as an art administrator in Columbia.

“I have chosen to live in Columbia because this is a community that genuinely supports arts programming and appreciates the value that the arts contribute to our economy,” Lane said.

Show-Me State Game is the only sport themed event in the signature series. It’s a statewide amateur sports festival that runs all-year and invites missouri residents regardless age or ability, according to the festival website.

“Last year we used the funding to help rebuild our website,” Emily Lorenz, the media and marketing coordinator of the festival, said. “We also used it for the e-newsletter which is something that we do every year and it’s a great way to reach out to our database. We started like 5 years ago at about 20,000 subscribers and now we have over 37,000 subscribers.”

Lorenz said she doesn’t know where exactly the funding would be used for since they are still in the planning stage for the following year. She thinks the funding will definitely help them improve the events they have currently.

She said a lot of the activities take place inside MU campus facilities such as the MizzouRec and Hearnes Center. She thinks it’s a great way to showcase MU to young athletes and their families, especially when the parents are MU alumni who would like to witness the changes on campus in person.

“We want to continue support these events and help them grow,” McConachie said. “Although we don’t necessarily have a specific target [in terms of how many people attend], we want to know how well the event went so we can learn more about how they are doing and how many people are staying overnight.”

Edited by Morgan Smith | mosmith@themaneater.com

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