Letter to the Editor: Westboro Village BIA responds

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Westboro Village BIA, we thought your readers would be interested in the rationale for the decision not to renew our Title Sponsorship of Westfest.

Dan Hwang, Chairman of the Board, Westboro Village BIA  Photo ©LinkedIn
Dan Hwang, Chairman of the Board, Westboro Village BIA Photo ©LinkedIn

This was a decision that the Board spent many months discussing including a strategic planning review with accompanying budget projections. We also had the benefit of our Members’ feedback over the past three years.

Westfest is a popular event with BIA members but not unanimously so. While the festival benefits some members, it does not benefit all of them. Our members expressed the view that there was definitely room for improvement.

Based on this detailed input we determined the interests of our Members would be best served, by opting not to renew the Title Sponsorship at a cost of $125,000 and instead to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a comparable summer festival event.  Yes, we are committed to a Westboro celebration next June. The BIA, and the festival organizer, both agreed to and had the option to exercise the opt out clause in the sponsorship agreement.

Clearly, one single major event is not going to mean all things to all people. However, the Board had enough concerns expressed over time from members about various aspects of the festival that they felt the sponsorship should be reviewed.

Over the years, the sponsorship funding for Westfest has grown to the point where it now represents 65% of the BIA marketing budget, leaving precious few dollars for other marketing programs and activities for the rest of the year.  We felt, as a Board, that it was our fiscal responsibility to review the sponsorship, and as organizations often do, look to the market for comparative and competitive pricing – hence the RFP.

There’s no question in our minds that a summer festival in Westboro of comparable size and scale can, and should be a part of our annual marketing program. However, we feel strongly that the corresponding budget be manageable and not overly dominate the available marketing funds. The BIA also wants to have clear insight into the organization of the event and a strong partnership with the organizer so that we can help maximize the benefits to our members and enhance the involvement and enjoyment of the event by the community.

There is no question about a summer festival in Westboro in 2016. There will be one. The incumbent promoter will be invited to respond to our upcoming request for proposal, and we expect their proposal to be a strong one. As the incumbent, they are in the best position to respond to the RFP.

While the BIA exists to benefit its business members, we recognize that a summer festival like Westfest is also very important to the community of Westboro at large. Many community residents have an important stake in the festival. This is another very important reason to continue the tradition of a festival in Westboro.

In closing, I want to say that the decisions around the future of the summer festival were not taken lightly. This is a serious matter and over the past several months, the Board has thought long and hard about the matter and only acted after much deliberation and, we think, in the best interests of all stakeholders. We appreciate the ongoing support and input received from our members, and we ask for your understanding and trust while we continue to act responsibly and fairly on behalf of all those who have an interest in this matter.

Dan Hwang
Chairman of the Board
Westboro Village BIA

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