September 27, 2004



Burke Taylor


Phone No.:



RTS No.:



CC File No.:



Meeting Date:

October 21, 2004


Standing Committee on City Services and Budgets


Director, Office of Cultural Affairs


"SeaVancouver" - the Vancouver Waterfront Festival - 2005"


A. THAT Council APPROVE a grant of $50,000 to the SeaVancouver Festival Society for detailed planning and development of the first annual SeaVancouver Festival; source of funds to be the "Opportunity" funds set aside from the 2003 Operating budget.

B. THAT Council APPROVE in principle, a further grant of up to $94,000, subject to the conditions outlined in this report, to the satisfaction of the Directors of Cultural Affairs and Finance, source of funds to be the Opportunity funds set aside from the 2003 Operating budget; and, that up to an additional $333,000 be provided from the matching Cultural Capitals funding provided by the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage.


The City Manager RECOMMENDS approval of the foregoing noting the City's longstanding desire to celebrate our community's culturally diverse and economically vital relationships to the sea. The City Manager also wishes to highlight that this is the second of two celebrations resulting from the partnership with the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage, as a result of the City's being designated Canada's first Cultural Capital in 2003. The first event was the very successful Vancouver Arts Awards in March of this year.


Approval of a grant requires eight affirmative votes.

The Cultural Grants program, approved by Council in 1978, provides for grants to non-profit cultural organizations that produce arts and cultural festivals and celebrations.

In 1998 Council adopted the Blueways goals "to encourage recreational and cultural activities such as... water-based festivals" and to "recognize and celebrate Vancouver's marine history."

In October 2002 Council approved an "Opportunities" policy framework for considering funding of new cultural development initiatives.

In October 2002 Council also conditionally approved two celebrations as part of the Cultural Capital of Canada application, which was awarded to the City in 2003.


This report seeks Council approval of a grant to the SeaVancouver Festival Society for the planning and development of the first annual SeaVancouver Festival. It also seeks approval in principle, of a second grant subject to conditions outlined in this report, for the implementation of the festival.


In October 2002 Council conditionally approved two celebrations as part of an application to the Cultural Capitals of Canada program, and up to $250,000 in funding for these events should the application be successful. The celebrations proposed in the application were the Vancouver Arts Awards to highlight excellence in the creative talent that drives our local culture, and a waterfront festival to celebrate Vancouver's multi-faceted relationships to the sea.

In May, 2003, the Minister of Canadian Heritage announced that Vancouver had been selected the first Cultural Capital of Canada (large City category). Accompanying the designation were up to $500,000 in matching funds toward the two proposed celebrations.

Vancouver Arts awards:
In July 2003 Council approved $83,000 civic funds plus $167,000 of federal funding toward research and planning and production of the Vancouver Arts Awards. This funding was almost doubled through other project partners and sponsors.

In March, 2004 the first Vancouver Arts Awards were produced in partnership with the Vancouver Society to Bridge Arts and Community, DCH /Cultural Capitals, and the CBC, in a televised event at the Vancouver Public Library. Bell Canada was the lead corporate sponsor. The awards were produced on budget and widely regarded as a success. The second edition (VAA2) will be produced in the fall of 2005. The VAA2 will be the subject of a separate report.

Waterfront Festival:
In July 2003 Council also approved $23,000 for research and plan development for the waterfront festival.

In early 2004, following the City of Richmond's decision to not host a repeat of the Tall Ships Challenge, the OCA undertook to determine the possibility of a tall ships event being integrated with Vancouver's intended waterfront celebration in 2005.

Through numerous discussions with a variety of interested parties, from the volunteers and organizers of the Richmond Tall Ships Challenge to the Vancouver Port, and local festival and event producers, staff have received a groundswell of interest and support for proceeding with the combined events. A number of community leaders have created a not-for-profit society - the SeaVancouver Society - and begun to build the organization to produce the first of what is hoped to be an annual event celebrating our past, present and future as a major international port and waterfront city.

The "SeaVancouver" concept is detailed in Appendix A. In summary, SeaVancouver Festival Society is proposing to develop a maritime-themed festival which will take place over 5 days in July along the public waterfront in Coal Harbour, False Creek and Vanier Park. With a projected attendance of 500,000 to free and paid events, SeaVancouver will incorporate cultural performances, sports and recreational events, and tall ships. On a tri-annual basis it also planned to incorporate a Tall Ships Challenge race in the program.


Vancouver's connection to the sea permeates all aspects of the City - our history, our sense of place, commerce, employment, recreation, and even transportation. In developing ideas for new celebrations, community feedback focused on the diversity of cultural traditions about the sea and utilizing Vancouver's extensive waterfront walkways, bikeways and parks system. It was also clear that the community was looking for a broad-based "signature event" which combined all of the diverse interests and elements that make us who and what we are.

The first Pacific Tall Ships Challenge held in Richmond in 2002 attracted more than 400,000 visitors clearly confirming Greater Vancouver's interest. The City of Richmond declined to host the event in 2005 creating an opportunity to merge the waterfront festival and tall ships events.

SeaVancouver is conceptualized in three components:

While much work has already been done to conceptualize the event, detailed planning work must now take place to develop a creative vision and harness both community and funding support. This report seeks Council's approval of a $50,000 grant for the next phase of development. Staff have reviewed the proposed SeaVancouver concept and believe that the event organisers have capacity to launch this ambitious festival. Additional planning resources will contribute to development of the artistic vision, assessment of logistical requirements and determination of the costs of production. It will provide organizers with the detailed information required for discussions with both Park Board and the FEST Committee.

A non-profit organisation, the SeaVancouver Festival Society has been formed with leadership from the port and maritime industry, tourism, transportation, and arts and cultural community. The Board will be responsible for retaining professional event staff, raising the necessary funding through grant and sponsorship opportunities and recruiting an estimated 1,500 community volunteers.

The estimated project budget is $2.68 million with anticipated funding from all levels of government, significant private sector sponsorships and ticket revenues. Staff have reviewed the budget and believe that while ambitious, it is reasonable if fund raising begins immediately.

To provide the event organizers with the maximum leverage for fundraising purposes, staff recommend that the City make an "in principle" commitment of up to an additional $427,000 in City and federal funding to the SeaVancouver Festival Society conditional upon a detailed concept, implementation plan and budget being presented together with evidence that the other necessary funds and partnerships will be in place - to the satisfaction of the Directors of Cultural Affairs and Budgets. This will raise the total City and federal government commitment to $477,000.


In October 2002 as part of the Cultural Capital of Canada application process, Council approved an allocation of $250,000 from the newly established "Opportunity" funds toward the proposed cultural capital celebrations. As a result of winning the Cultural Capital of Canada award in2003, the City secured a further $500,000 in funding for these events. Federal funding will be provided on a reimbursement basis. To date $55,000 has been allocated for the planning and development of the Arts Award and Waterfront Festival and a further $218,000 allocated for the implementation of the 2004 Vancouver Arts Awards.


Waterfront Festival

Vancouver Arts Awards


City: Opportunity Funds




Govt. of Canada: Cultural Capitals of Canada




Less funds previously allocated:




Balance remaining




The allocation of $50,000 in planning funds for SeaVancouver will leave a balance of up to $427,000 available for project funding in 2005. Staff note that as per the SeaVancouver Festival proposal the Society will be seeking additional funds currently estimated at $450,000 which is within reasonable range of the approximate balance of federal and City funds provided for.


Staff support further development of the SeaVancouver proposal and recommend a grant of $50,000 for the preparation of a detailed creative concept, implementation plan, and budget, for report back prior to Council's final consideration of the full request amount. Staff also recommend in principle approval of up to an additional $427,000 of City and City advance on federal funds, subject to the Society meeting the conditions noted above to the satisfaction of the Directors of Cultural Affairs and Budgets.

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Link to Appendix A.