With more community events returning to an in-person format, crowd favorites like Celebrate Woodinville and the Woodinville Farmers Market require additional support to operate at a post-pandemic level.
In an effort to increase tourism, Woodinville City Council voted unanimously to allocate $145,615 to five nonprofits in town during a meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 21. According to the staff report, funds will be used for the organizations to host special events and attract more tourism to the city.
Washington state law requires lodging taxes to be spent on specific uses such as marketing for tourism-related events and operations for festivals. As a result, the city’s Lodging Tax Advisory Committee (LTAC) was tasked with reviewing grant applications for funding in 2022.
Woodinville Repertory Theatre, a first-time applicant, requested $10,000 to cover costs associated with production and marketing. According to its grant application, the theatre also plans to use the funds to refurbish a new home at the former site of O’Reilly’s Auto Parts, 13244 NE 175th Ave in Woodinville.
The group hopes to convert the space into a temporary theater to perform its opening weekend of “Miss Holmes” in March 2022. The funding would also allow for the spring performance to be free for the public. According to the staff report, the total restoration project is anticipated to cost about $20,500.
“[The theater] has come to us in other situations asking for help and we haven’t given it yet,” Councilmember Susan Boundy-Sanders said.
Finance Director Blaine Fritts said the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee reviewed the application and recommended the council fund $5,000, or half, of the request.
“They have concerns,” Fritts said. “They’re a new grant applicant so there’s some uncertainty. [The committee] made it very clear with that particular grant application, that it would be only reimbursable upon full performance.”
After debate, council members voted to grant the Woodinville Repertory Theater the full $10,000.
The Woodinville Arts Alliance requested funding for three events: $3,000 for the Sip & Stroll art walk, $1,300 for the annual Art Studio Tour and $915 for quarterly Art Walk events. Fritts said the committee recommended full funding for all projects.
The Woodinville Chamber of Commerce applied to fund three events as well, Fritts said. The committee approved $31,000 for Celebrate Woodinville and $9,000 for Winterfest. An additional $12,950 will go toward web and social media strategy for Visit Woodinville.
Celebrate Woodinville traditionally features four weeks of evening concerts on Wednesday nights in the summer, a 5K fun run and an all-day festival with live music, he said. Winterfest occurs in December with similar activities.
Woodinville Wine Country requested $31,500 to fund a marketing program titled “Your Next Glass is on the Way.” Fritts said videography and photography would showcase the lifespan of a grape from vineyard to glass.
The group was also granted $25,800 for Woodinville Visitor Center operations, Fritts said. The center, which is managed by Woodinville Wine Country, provides essential tourism services to millions of visitors from across the country.
Fitts said about $20,150 was approved for the expansion of Woodinville Farmers Market next spring. In previous years, he added, the market has requested less funding.
With the completion of the new Schoolhouse District development, the market will be moving to Festival Street. Program organizers predict the project will cost about $48,000 in total. According to the staff report, funds will support marketing and advertising costs as well as additional staffing.