What Now? There's Still Money for a Balboa Park 2015 Bash But Little Time - Voice of San Diego

Arts/Culture UNVEILING THE UNSEEN

What Now? There's Still Money for a Balboa Park 2015 Bash But Little Time

The Tourism Marketing District has cash set aside and plans have been outlined for scaled down events.

We’ve examined what happened to the organization charged with mounting a gigantic festival to celebrate the centennial of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. But what will happen now? What can happen with only nine months to go until the year is here?

First, it looks like there’s going to be an audit of Balboa Park Centennial, Inc., or BPCI. The City Council’s Environmental Committee requested an audit and some options from City Attorney Jan Goldsmith about what the city can do to recover assets.

The Tourism Marketing District still has the money it budgeted for promoting the centennial sitting in an account, awaiting the new plans. That’s almost $2 million for marketing whatever event Mayor Kevin Faulconer and City Council President Gloria announce.

“Our board is keeping it there, to find out what the plan is for Balboa Park,” Lorin Stewart, the TMD executive director, said. “So if there are programs that can market the city, to feeder markets outside, that can be promoted or sold, then that’s where TMD could come in and be happy to support that.”

Gloria has said the final event will still have a large tourism component and will “befit something as deserving as Balboa Park.”

And not all of the money’s been wasted. Almost $300,000 of the shuttered Balboa Park Celebration Inc.’s expenditures went to museums and institutions in the park to plan their own events.

The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, The Old Globe, The Model Railroad Museum, the Museum of Man and the Museum of Photographic Arts each got between $24,000 and $55,000 to plan their contributions. You can see all the financial information here.

These institutions have vowed to make us proud.

One of the main contractors BPCI put in charge of programming the event, Autonomy, produced big plans to introduce a more cultural side of San Diego to the world. Perhaps they’re worth something still.

Utopia, the contractor brought in to deliver the event program after Autonomy was fired, briefed Gloria on options in February, before BPCI shut down.

The city could pursue a “regional” celebration, which would call on the awe-inspiring vision initially put forward, and showcase the park and city as “a model of technological, artistic and commercial achievement and innovation.”

That would require an $11.8 million budget, according to Utopia.

Or, the city could finally settle on a local event, and let go of the dream of reaching people from Angola and Geneva to tell them about how cool our city’s becoming.

This scaled-back plan would cost $1.9 million, much less than what the city and TMD have already spent.

 

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