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World Festival could be replaced with 'made in Richmond' event

The proposed 2022 budget for city events is pegged at $700,000.
Richmond World Festival/News file photo

The Richmond World Festival – after a pre-pandemic run of five years – most likely won’t be taking place any more.

At Monday’s committee meeting, Coun. Bill McNulty said the festival “missed the mark” as city council discussed re-imaging the festival to be more “made in Richmond” and focused on cultural harmony.

A $40,000 budget will be used to put on small multicultural events next year during which city staff plan to canvas participants on what kind of festival they’d like to see to replace the World Festival.

The World Festival, whose budget was $600,000 in 2019 – of which $400,000 was city funds – was attended by an estimated 50,000 people. Over the years, the festival featured names like Lights, the Bedouin Soundclash and the Strumbellas.

The festival was cancelled in 2020 because of COVID-19, but discussion began around that time at the city council table about reconfiguring it to be more community oriented.

The $40,000 budget to engage Richmondites to reimagine World Festival was approved by council on Monday as part of a $700,000 budget to put on various city events and festivals in 2022.

The last year of full events, 2019, the festival and special events budget was almost $1.35 million. This year, the budget was $258,000 - city staff, however, reported this was supplemented by grants, sponsorships and city operations.

Next year will see the Steveston Salmon Festival back but spread out over two weeks prior to July 1.

Its budget and the budget for the Richmond Maritime Festival are $200,000 each.

Part of the special events budget are the Neighbourhood Celebration Grants.

In 2021, there were 62 applications for the grants but they were put on hold because of the pandemic and will be transferred to next year’s budget.

In its report to council, city staff emphasize that much of the programming is dependent on what COVID-19 protocols are in place when it’s time to put on the events.

The special events budget will come back to council for final approval on Monday.

Proposed 2020 City Events budget

Children’s Arts Festival: $60,000

Cherry Blossom Festival: $35,000

Doors Open: $20,000

Neighbourhood Celebration Grants: $75,000

Steveston Salmon Festival: $200,000

Richmond Maritime Festival: $200,000

Farmers markets: $30,000

#RichmondHasHeart: $40,000