Tuesday, May 17, 2011

To Do Lists

At the very top of my to-do list is to hire someone to help me get some things done on my to-do list. The CVB is interviewing for an event planner/convention sales person. This is a good sign although it took some convincing by the mayor that we needed to add to our staff. I have a tendency to think I can do it all myself but the CVB has taken some big steps into event planning, something not traditionally done by this office. The truth is, one person can't put on a multi-day festival. It takes many, many volunteers and helpers to make an event happen. If you've ever been in McPherson for All Schools Day or the McPherson Scottish Festival you'll see some of the best organized celebrations in the state.
We have one event coming up in June that will help us get our feet wet on events -- Biking Across Kansas will stop in McPherson June 7. It will be great to have 900+ guests on bicycles visit our city and it's a great opportunity to roll out the red carpet. We plan on having live music at the bandshell beginning at 5 p.m. including the McPherson Community Band, McPherson Pipe Band and Celtic band Raging Sea. The concert isn't just for BAK guests, the whole town is invited! We'll also have a great variety of food booths set up in the park too so grab your lawn chair and come on down.
Once we've recovered from that we'll be going full steam planning the first-ever McPherson Basketball Traditions Celebration Aug. 12-14. Here's the schedule for that.
Friday, Aug. 12 at Roundhouse
5 p.m. Free barbecue for first 300 people sponsored by Midway Motors
Kids contests 25-cents per game to benefit WACCC, plenty of prizes!:
peach basket toss
free throw, 3-point contest
half court shot
Slam Dunk tank
Bungee hoops
dribble obstacle course
7 p.m. Alumni of past state champ teams scrimmage
Half-time entertainment TBA
Sponsorship: NCRA

Saturday, Aug. 13
9 a.m. 3-on-3 tournament--- 5 divisions, $30 entry fee, shirts additional $, sign up your team!
Volunteers: McPherson Chamber of Commerce

7 p.m. movie at Opera House “Fast Break: Breaking Social Barriers Through Basketball” documentary by Keith Zimmerman, Eric Monder presenting “Olympiad” clips from 1936 Olympics, Stuart Naismith, grandson of James Naismith
Sponsorship: CVB

Sunday, Aug. 14
3 p.m. Reception at Community building
Basketball historians giving short speeches
Rich Hughes, author
Steve Farney, author & basketball Historian
Stuart Naismith, keynote sponsored by Wise and Reber

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Promoting your business? The CVB can help!

Are you struggling with how to best promote your business without spending a fortune? There are many opportunities available through the Convention and Visitors Bureau for free or at minimal cost.
For instance, this last month I attended two shows geared to consumers looking for weekend getaways and day trips. Attractions like the water park, opera house and festivals always grab their interests but many are also interested in our shopping and dining. Ann Engel, Main Street director, has helped me keep an updated map and directory of the downtown area marked with shopping, businesses, restaurants, ATM locations and available buildings. I hand out hundreds at every show that I go to, as well as, at local hotels, restaurants and shops. This is a free service of the Convention and Visitors Bureau we provide to local businesses.
Another free service we offer is our Visitor Coupon Book that we print and hand out to visiting groups and conventions and hand out at shows. We currently have 35 merchants participating in this book for free. We handed out 1,200 at the Taste of Home Show in Hutchinson alone last week. Our criteria to participate is that businesses offer a percent discount or BOGO offer, have no expiration date, and keep a tally to turn in to our office every quarter of coupons turned in. Anyone in McPherson that can meet the criteria can participate.
There are also online opportunities where you can list your business with the state’s tourism website via the CVB and even include a picture at no charge. Additionally we can list you in their printed official visitors guide for the state at a nominal charge. Close to 800,000 of these guides are distributed to potential visitors. The more listings we can get for McPherson, the more these potential customers will want to plan a trip to our town.
Often when I go to travel shows there are opportunities for door prizes or to have us hand out a brochure about your business. All of the names we collect through our prize drawings are entered into a database that we will share with any business that provides giveaways or decorations for our booth.
Another great inexpensive way to promote your business is to join organizations like McPherson Main Street and the Chamber of Commerce. The amount of promotional opportunities and networking opportunities you get for your membership is invaluable. A strong Main Street and Chamber that plan community events certainly make my job easier. The CVB tries to support both organizations with marketing grants and partnerships like I listed above.
One project that we are all three partnering on is an update to our official visitor guide and community profile magazine. This publication will be distributed at all the travel information centers and locally at hotels, restaurants, shops and at our office. When you get a call to support this guide I hope you’re able to help us put out a quality publication that represents our fine community.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What I've learned since Topeka

It never fails that before an article is even published, some of the information becomes questionable or out-of-date.
While giving a TIAK report to the members of the South Central Kansas Tourism Region last week I mentioned what was discussed at the TIAK Day on the Hill. All reports then indicated that the governor's decision to dissolve the arts commission would not jeopardize federal funding for the arts in Kansas.
In a release from Governor Sam Brownback's office he stated "As a state agency, the historical society will be eligible to receive federal matching funds for the purpose of advancing the arts in the State of Kansas."
It was this statement that made me think arts would not suffer from a loss of funding and perhaps a private non-profit was a viable option much like the Humanities Council.
It was brought to my attention by Christine Downey Schmidt that this is not necessarily the case.
Here is a summary of what the National Endowment for the Arts had to say in response to Gov. Brownback's ERO.

The National Endowment for the Arts’ investment in a state is predicated on a significant financial and programmatic commitment from state government to its arts council. In each case, state and federal funds are combined to support local programs and priorities. The National Endowment for the Arts stated in an email to the Kansas Legislative Research Department on February 14, 2011:
Federal Match
· Kansas may forfeit its ability to receive federal funding depending on how the new entity is structured and how this restructure addresses the NEA requirements for a fully functioning state arts agency.
· The funds utilized for the 1:1 match to the NEA Partnership Agreement must be directly controlled and managed by the state and may include state appropriated, donated or trust funds.
· If the state does not provide state controlled funds for support of the state arts agency, all federal funds are at risk.
Kansas Arts Foundation / Kansas Historical Society
· It is unclear which agency, the Kansas Historical Society or the 501(c3), is controlling the funds.
It is unclear as to who will be the applicant to the NEA and who will be responsible for performing the responsibilities of the NEA Partnership Agreement; the Kansas Historical Society or the Kansas Arts Foundation.
· Continued federal investment is contingent on the State of Kansas providing financial support to its designated state arts agency. The agency must have the capacity to carry out the significant responsibilities of the NEA Partnership Agreement, including:
· The implementation of an NEA-approved state arts plan, developed as a result of a comprehensive and inclusive planning process that addresses the state’s cultural priorities and those of the NEA, as stipulated in the Endowment’s strategic plan.
· Fair funding decisions based on criteria that take into account artistic excellence and merit, as determined primarily through a panel process.
· Maintenance of sound fiscal and administrative procedures.
· Demonstration of leadership in arts education and in strategies for making the arts available and accessible to those in underserved communities throughout the state.
About the National Endowment for the Arts
The National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, currently provides $778,200 in funding to the KansasArts Commission, a state agency, for grants, programs and services to artists and organizations of Kansas.

If nothing else this outlines some criteria for how the new arts council should be structured, funded and administered and I, for one, would like to see some reassurances from the governor's office on these points.

What I learned in Topeka

Last week I attended two days of meetings as part of the Tourism Industry Association of Kansas’ Day on the Hill. I don’t know what it is about politics, but I find it fascinating. Maybe it’s the implied power of being a lawmaker or the historic statehouse with its five floors of marble and ornate woodwork. I don’t know but it sure was a rush.
Our group heard from Parks and Wildlife Secretary Robin Jennison about the recent addition of Tourism to his department. Sec. Jennison is a big outdoorsman and hosted a radio show all about the outdoors for four years. This new alignment of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism will put more of an emphasis on our outdoor recreation when marketing the Sunflower State. While a few larger metros have expressed some concern their attractions will get overlooked, the consensus by Director Becky Blake and those in the industry is that it is a good move. I myself like the switch but I’m a little confused as to why it was necessary to add a third undersecretary to the department if the Governor’s ideology has always been one of smaller government.
The other major issue discussed was the executive reorganization order to eliminate the Arts Commission and make it a non-profit funded by private donors. The state is facing a $500 million shortfall and comparatively the Arts Commission $592,000 budget is just a drop in the bucket.
Arts supporters are concerned the loss of state agency status will mean a loss in federal arts funding but the Historical Society is able to accept federal funds and funnel them on to a private Arts Council. There is also concern that not having a state agency dedicated to the arts will give the stigma that Kansas is not arts-friendly.
My two cents are that this is not a necessary action by Governor Brownback. On the other hand, if arts supporters truly believe in supporting the arts, hopefully they will support it with their wallets when necessary.
By far the best meeting I had in Topeka was the time I spent with Rep. Clark Shultz talking about McPherson. I’m hoping he will support some kind of resolution to make McPherson the Olympic Basketball Capital of Kansas in time for the 75th anniversary of the Globe Refiners 1936 Olympic victory in August. If you agree, mention it the next time you see Rep. Shultz, Sen. Jay Emler or Rep. Don Schroeder. Or just thank them for all of their hard work.

Monday, January 31, 2011


Every year I try to make time to watch the Academy Awards. I love films. I studied them in college and have watched more than my fair share in my life. I always wondered why you never see a category for Best Producer? I guess that just defaults to the best picture winner. I also think being a good producer means recognizing good talent, giving them an opportunity to perform and basically getting the heck out of their way.
It's funny that in my job I've done a fair amount of producing (and Mom said my film degree was useless). I look for others with talent, enlist them in a task and then stand back and enjoy their work. Talent is a gift. Recognizing it in others is a skill. Seeing others develop their talent is a blessing.
One of the first "discoveries" I made as CVB director was to happen upon the Flickr photostreams of James Bruntz(sicklittlemonkey) and Jessi Bruntz (jessi). I loved their individual style but I loved even more how once these two got together their collective work improved. James and Jessi feed off each other and it's cool they're also madly in love. I'm in love with their work and if you look at any of the downtown photos James shot, you'll see his talent. James, Jessi and I judged last year's photo contest and it was one of the funnest half hours of my life.
Another photography talent I've been blessed to befriend is Jim Griggs, the winner of last year's photo contest. I can't claim to have given Jim a leg up when he really did me a HUGE favor in submitting to our contest last year. Jim's been published in National Geographic and his photos of wildlife at Maxwell Wildlife Refuge are, in a word, breathtaking. To see more of his work, go here: http://selective-focus.com
My most recent project is to put together a McPherson DVD and I was lucky enough to come across Keith Cantrell. Actually, Keith first came to me wanting to show the movie he'd made "Listening" as one of our Movies in the Park. I was happy to do it, mainly because I'd heard good things about Keith but also because he didn't charge any royalties ;). Keith has since shot some great videos of families in McPherson that you can find on our YouTube channel
I'd be lost without the enormous talent and organizational skills of our mural artist Naomi Ullum. Naomi has been decorative painting and creating murals for years. She teaches art classes at Central Christian College of Kansas. Naomi and three of her students spent weeks putting together our Globe Refiners mural last year based on a drawing Naomi created herself. She's amazing. Stop by the Wesley Black Fine Arts Center at CCCK to see what Naomi and her students are working on. Even better, volunteer to work on one of our upcoming murals and learn from Naomi first-hand.
This is only the tip of the iceberg of talent I get to work with. I hope you enjoy the products of our combined efforts.

A slow time of year

The bad thing about January is that it’s cold and no one is traveling north of Florida, or at least not to places without a ski lift. The nice thing is you get a clean slate – a fresh budget to work with and a brand new calendar to fill with dates and appointments.
I’ve already booked several travel shows and conferences to attend in 2011, including the Great Escapes Expo at Fort Riley, the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson and a conference in Topeka where we get to hear about all the issues before the legislature that affect tourism.
I am also planning several events right here in McPherson. Traditionally, CVBs are meant to assist organizations and attractions promote their events, not to stage events on our own. Last year I got my feet wet with the Scottish Evening at the McPherson Opera House. This year we’re looking at several activities to promote the 75th anniversary of the 1936 Olympic victory in August. We might also have a large number of guests pouring in June for another event but I’ll go into that more another time.
Planning events is a large amount of work but also a fun way to work with volunteers and meet visitors that come to town.
If you’re thinking of planning an event, why not stop by the CVB office and find out how we can help? The CVB has grants, promotional information, welcome bags and will help publicize your event.
Please contact Pam or myself at the CVB for all of your tourism questions – (620) 241-3340 or follow the CVB on Facebook: www.facebook.com/visitmac