ACRA needs to examine its priorities |

ACRA needs to examine its priorities

Some officials with the Aspen Chamber Resort Association believe they have a problem with sponsorships. The problem is also with priorities.

ACRA President Hana Pevny told the board of directors this week that the organization is struggling to put on some events because city regulations make sponsorships less appealing to corporate sponsors.

Pevny singled out Wintersköl as an event that is expensive to put on and difficult to fund. Pevny said it would cost $40,000 to put on the same events as last year, $20,000 for the annual fireworks show alone.

She floated the idea to the board that the chamber might not be able to afford to put on the fireworks show this year. Fortunately, chairman Rick Jones and several other board members quickly popped the trial balloon that Pevny floated. As Jones put it ” everybody wants the fireworks, now ACRA needs to go out and find the funds to buy them.

Passing the hat in the community for the fireworks is a great idea ” but not when it is tied to Pevny’s eleventh-hour suggestion that this tradition will die if folks don’t pony up.

ACRA has an obligation to its due-paying members to do certain things. Ask the members what they expect from the chamber and the likely replies would be: Get me a cheaper season ski pass, invest in tourism marketing, throw the Fourth of July parade, and organize Wintersköl. That includes fireworks, which provide a big boost to business by filling the restaurants before and after the show.

Pevny takes the position that Wintersköl is a celebration by the community for the community, so the community must step up. What she apparently fails to realize is the community has already stepped up in a big way by paying its membership dues.

She needs to follow the Aspen Skiing Co.’s model. The Skico sinks a lot more money into FIS World Cup ski races and the international celebration that surrounds them than ACRA puts into Wintersköl. To its credit, the Skico doesn’t come to the community with a threat to pay up or lose the fireworks. Instead, it solicits local contributions well before the event occurs.

Again, there’s nothing wrong with ACRA passing the hat for the Wintersköl fireworks or working ahead of time to find local sponsors. But ACRA needs to drop the blackmail pitch and be prepared to dip into its budget to cover whatever size of shortfall exists. It’s just a matter of priorities.