Advocate editorial board opinion: Film festival is fabulous idea for Victoria

By the Advocate Editorial Board
Jan. 14, 2012 at 2:02 p.m.
Updated Jan. 13, 2012 at 7:14 p.m.

Victoria as host for a film festival sounds like a terrific idea. And we think most people would be in favor of the idea. Why not?

We know there is a concern about this first-time event - scheduled in March the week after the South by Southwest film festival in Austin concludes. The festival has no history to guarantee it will be successful, so some people think the city shouldn't contribute any hotel/motel tax funds to the venture.

But Anthony Pedone, the festival's brainchild and executive director of the Victoria Texas Independent Film Festival, is confident the festival will go on. He has set the festival date for March 22-24 at the Leo J. Welder Center for the Performing Arts.

Pedone, who has at least seven feature films lined up for the festival, says half of the money needed to put the festival on already is accounted for, but he will need money for promotion, rental of the venue for three days and for equipment, including projectors, screens and more.

We think the city should award the funds and encourage this effort. Half of the money needed amounts to $43,150, which the city has and a little more left in hotel/motel tax revenues. Such a film festival would put people in hotel rooms, enhance restaurant, bar and retail business and draw audiences from the Crossroads.

Although Pedone missed applying for the motel/hotel tax revenue, his idea has merit. A film festival is a new idea - something Victoria has never considered before, and that is exciting and refreshing. And we believe it is not only doable but an event that would meet success.

And what the film festival will accomplish in terms of tourism and entertainment meets criteria that would legally merit spending hotel/motel tax funds, according to City Attorney Thomas Gwosdz.

We must emphasize that these tax funds - by law - cannot be spent on streets, utility repair such as sewer lines or other infrastructure.

And the hotel/motel tax revenue is generated by visitors to our community and is not a local tax burden. So the film festival not only meets the criteria to be funded by hotel/motel tax revenues, it also costs Victoria taxpayers nothing.

We encourage the city council when it meets Tuesday to show support for this endeavor. We think it will brighten the arts scene in our community while ratcheting Victoria's popularity in the Crossroads and in South Texas as an arts compass point.

Let the show go on. And save an aisle seat for us.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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