The Prairie Village City Council on Monday gave tentative approval to $10,000 in city funding for the 2015 Jazz Festival, a contribution organizers say will help them be more competitive in attracting top flight talent to play the event.
Jazz Fest Committee Chair Jack Shearer introduced the committee’s request — initially for $20,000 — for city funding to help give them a financial foundation as they begin planning for the next year’s event. The festival had missed out on the opportunity to book some of their desired acts for 2014’s festival, slated for September 6, because the committee didn’t have enough funds on hand to sign contracts with the artists when they were available. Those artists have since committed to other opportunities.
The request initially elicited push back from some councilors, who suggested the committee needed to figure out how to pay for the event by itself.
“Where are we going to take it from?” said councilor Laura Wassmer. “Do we take it from streets? Do we take it from parks?”
Brooke Morehead, the council liaison to the Jazz Fest committee, countered saying she thought it was wholly appropriate to use some taxpayer funds to help support the event. She noted that the city helps underwrite VillageFest, Prairie Village’s Fourth of July event, each year, “and that’s just bouncies and funnel cakes for kids.”
“We need an event for adults in this city,” she said. “If we are going to be the boutique city that people want to come to, this is the kind of thing we need to do.”
The council debated what level of funding would be appropriate, and ultimately decided to allocate $10,000 to the event as part of its 2015 budgeting process.
“We had some debate about how much we should ask for,” Shearer said before the vote. “And we decided it’s always easier to come down than to go up.”