Like Wicked Manors before them, the organizers of this year’s Stonewall festival are dealing with soaring security costs as a result of the mass murder of 49 individuals at Pulse Nightclub in June of 2016.
To cover those costs, organizers have set up a GoFundMe page to help supplement sponsorship money which will be used to help pay for the event – Saturday, June 17 from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. along Wilton Drive.
As of March 30, only $100 has been donated to the GoFundMe page – gofundme.com/wilton-manors-stonewall-security – but Jeff Sterling, CEO of the Wilton Manors Entertainment Group, which has been chosen by the city for the third year in a row to run the event, said it hasn’t been advertised yet. He expects more donations once the advertising campaign is started in earnest.
“We’re treating the GoFundMe page as another avenue [of revenue]. Obviously, we’re chasing other sponsors to cover the highly, almost insurmountable cost, of security,” Sterling said. “We’re going to have to raise more money than Stonewall has ever had to in the past.”
Sterling said the expected cost of security will be about $50,000. It was $24,000 last year. It’s an expense which he joked has added a few gray hairs to his head. Next year, he said he hopes the city will take care of the security costs. “We’ve requested to put this stuff in the police budget. The city should just consider it an expense of doing business here.”
Along with additional security, Sterling said organizers and city officials are making a bigger effort to estimate the economic impact the festival has on the city, county, and region.
He wants to use the information to get more financial support from the county.
Using his own internal numbers, Sterling estimated Stonewall brings in $650,000 to the businesses in the city and $3 million to the county. “We need Broward County to recognize the contribution of Wilton Manors. [People who come to Stonewall] spend their money outside Wilton Manors, too.”
In addition to using a drone and additional cameras to take photos of the crowd, Pamela Landi, assistant city manager, said she’s working on a survey to give to festival attendees.
“This isn’t anything we’ve done before. We want to be able to provide realistic and hard data on the impact the festival has on the region,” Landi said.
Landi is still in the preliminary stages of the survey but said that it will include questions about how much people spend and where they are from.
For more information on Stonewall festival, visit WiltonManorsStonewall.com.