B.C. Day will no longer feature free performances by local musicians on the grounds of St. Ann’s Academy, but the show will go on in Langford.
The popular Victoria event has been changed to a family picnic, after a dispute between John Selkirk, producer of Capital Festival, and the Provincial Capital Commission, which manages the provincially-owned property.
“This is very damaging,” Selkirk said. “They were taking ownership of my festival.”
Selkirk launched Capital Festival in 2009 with a $15,000 sponsorship from the PCC. The event attracted 8,000 people. Last year it was expanded to include a free music festival at City Centre Park in Langford.
Disagreements between Selkirk and the PCC, however, flared Feb. 19, 2011.
On that day, Selkirk received a package from the PCC inviting him to submit a proposal to plan, promote and manage an event on B.C. Day. In the 40-page request for proposals, the PCC claimed to be the producer of the festival at St. Ann’s.
“Why was I blindsided by this?” asked Selkirk. He claims he was given verbal assurances that his festival was an annual event, and that the venue was booked for 2011. Based on this, he had sponsors lined up for an expanded, three-day event, July 30 through Aug. 1.
The RFP closed March 4 and the PCC received no proposals. Instead, the PCC board agreed to host its own event: a family picnic. Ray Parks of the PCC admits the wording of the RFP document was incorrect.
“It is clearly John’s thing … and there is no intention to try to scoop that or take it,” he said.
Parks, however, defended the need to open up the opportunity to other bidders. “I’ve got to be open and fair to everybody,” said Parks, explaining an increased sponsorship offer of $30,000 requires going to public tender.
“Quite frankly I was shocked when (Selkirk) didn’t apply … If he had responded to the RFP, I would have been happy to work with him.”
The two sides have not been able to resolve the problem, however, because of a series of miscommunications on both sides, Parks said. “I wasn’t aware that there was this misunderstanding … until John corrected me sometime later.”
In contrast to his soured relationship with the PCC, Selkirk said his partnership with Langford and other West Shore sponsors remains strong.
He is in negotiations now for the second B.C. Day celebration at Goudy Field, near Westhills development. In 2010 David Gogo headlined the 10-act lineup.
“We hope to build off last year’s success and make this even a bigger event with more performers,” Selkirk said. “For us, our relationship with the West Shore is golden.”
— with files from Edward Hill