Council approves $50,000 to explore film, music festival in Carmel

Carmel’s Department of Community Relationships and Economic Development will get $50,000 next year to continue exploring the possibility of a film and music festival in the city.

That funding approved Monday night was significantly less than the department’s $425,000 request.

Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard and Nancy Heck, director of community relations and economic development, requested in September that the city’s 2020 budget include $425,000 to plan for the festival, which would feature music from the Carmel Symphony Orchestra and major studio movie premieres.

When the city’s 2020 budget was formally introduced to city councilors earlier this month, several expressed concerns about the sum of money, which would have been seed money used to further plan the festival. City officials are eyeing May 2021 for a launch date. The festival would take place during Memorial Day weekend, when many people are visiting Indianapolis for the Indy 500.

On Monday night, the city council unanimously amended the city’s 2020 budget to remove $375,000 from the department’s budget, leaving about $50,000 for film festival planning.

The festival would be comparable to the Ravina Festival near Chicago, Illinois, and the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina.

A not-for-profit organization would likely manage the event.

City officials believe the film and music festival would become self-sufficient in a few years, like the Christkindlmarkt, which is also managed by a not-for-profit but has been financially supported by the city.

In its first year, the city gave Christkindlmarkt $440,000. In the second year, that contribution was reduced to $125,000. This year, the market is expected to be self-sufficient after sales revenue last year reached $2.23 million, as reported by the market.

Carmel city officials believe the city’s Center for the Performing Arts—which includes three venues—and the layout of is central core will make the city’s music and film festival unique.

Indianapolis is already home to a few film festivals, including the Heartland International Film Festival, which just wrapped up its 10-day run; the Indy Film Festival; the Indianapolis LGBT Film Festival; and the Indiana Black Expo Film Festival.

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