Arte Calidad Cultural Institute's 10th Annual Fiesta de la Gente will not be held this October 24th and 25th, citing fees normally waived by the City have been imposed, and new fees were added on by the Department of Recreation and Parks.
"Those costs were more than 30% of the current budget, and we could not raise replacement funds with such short notice," said festival producer Tony Dominguez Monday evening. In a release from Arte Calidad Cultural Institute planned for Tuesday, Councilman José Huizar office representative is quoted as saying “Our office, like the entire city budget, has faced major cutbacks."
A last minute meeting with partnering offices of Council District 14 was held mid-day Monday, said Dominguez. "The district office did try to step up to the plate, but it was too little, too late."
To make it worse, as vendors and volunteer staff were being informed about the decision, a late afternoon email from Hollenbeck Park––where the festival was to be held––told event organizers that based on discussions with another city park facility "any food booths or vendors that are selling items must be categorized under 'Commercial’ including arts and crafts booths."
"That meant vendors would have had to pay $200 a day," says Dominguez. "If I knew that from the start, I wouldn't have agreed to bring the festival to the park at all."Attendance for Fiesta de La Gente peaked in 2007, as 150,000 people attended the two-day festival on the 6th Street Bridge. A smaller festival has been held in the Arts District the last two years, and despite last year’s threat of rain, attracted 60,000 to Hewitt Street, according to Dominguez. He added that District 14's office encouraged him to consider returning Fiesta de la Gente to the Boyle Heights park.
The festival serves as a fundraiser for Arte Calidad Cultural Institute, and while it never generated a lot of revenue, Dominguez says "It helped to keep the lights on, allowed us to pay the rent, and helped put us on the map. We had previous offers to move it to Texas, or New York.”
There are no plans to re-stage Fiesta de La Gente at a different location, and festival staff and supporters may simply hold a private wake at their 8th and Gladys Street facility where the institutes' large-scale paper-mâché art are tombed.There is the matter of a Dominguez’s $500 deposit to secure Hollenbeck Park. Since he cancelled a Day of the Dead Festival, the city may add a kill fee.