CFN – I agree with Chris Savard. It’s time to clear the air about the Lift Off festival he founded in Cornwall Ontario, but the more we investigate Lift Off the weirder it’s become.
After several reports came into our offices we attempted to contact both the Kinsmen and Lift Off. Kinsmen President Michael Galvin was out and out rude and disrespectful going as far as to suggest we were making accusations of some sort when we asked the very simple and polite question: Are the Kinsmen sponsoring Lift Off in 2012?
In an earlier story we wrote he went as far as to ramble on in our comments section.
This article is an example of poor journalism and “spinning” a story to a particular angle that serves the intent of the editor.
For the record I was contacted to explain “rumors” that the editor had heard. By implying that I have “confirmed” anything is a lose translation of our conversation where I explained to the editor that I simply could not give him any answers as we have not had any meetings at this point and that our budget was not set. Our club has had no discussion one way or the other on the support of the festival.
Kinsmen Cornwall Lift-off is a flagship event for our community and the ALL VOLUNTEER board that puts on this festival works long hours with very little reward to do something good for our community. There are far too many people who are willing to complain and knock things down, but they often don’t have any better ideas, nor do I see these same naysayers sitting around any of the community board meetings that I attend. If anyone feels that they can do a better job in organizing a world-class festival year after year I encourage them to contact Lift-Off and volunteer their expertise.
This story would have been significantly more balanced if the editor admitted that he was basing this article on personal opinion, rumors and conjecture, rather than hard facts. One person crying foul hardly counts as an entire festival “coming under fire”.
Respectfully, I remain;
Michael J. Galvin
Kinsmen Club of Cornwall
We attempted a follow up before January 1 of this year and Mr. Galvin refused not only to answer this, but after contacting Jason Jesmer it turns out that Mr. Galvin is the Media relations officer of Lift Off.
Mr. Jesmer is the only confirmed member of the current Lift Off board we could verify which is also mystical? After all Lift Off is a non-profit corporation. We have not been able to find any Annual General Meeting notices for the group and they pulled their $25K funding request from the City of Cornwall for unannounced reasons.
The question we get asked and now ask is why so mysterious? Why so hostile? What happened to this festival that means so much to so many in Cornwall Ontario and will it even occur in 2012?
The troubles start after 2010. The festival had it’s biggest slate ever after receiving an extra $75K from the province of Ontario.
That same year founder Savard seemed to switch families. The Festival’s own numbers were in the area of 50,000 plus in attendance. Even if only half of those were paid, with a minimum ticket price of $20 that’s over $500,000.
Add in the beer tent, sponsorship, and the fact that Lift Off didn’t have to pay for the location, staffing, and many other things that most events would have to because of the generosity of the city and community.
Jeff Brunet of Alkaline Entertainment priced the quote numbers for the talent assembled. The quote number would be what the band was asking for at that time; not necessarily what an event or venue would have to pay.
Running some preliminary numbers through an accountant we can’t find over $250,000 based on numbers released. Lift Off has refused to release their numbers or show their books. Again, another red flag for a non profit community driven organization which should be 100% transparent.
See it gets murkier and we have been attacked as though we were picking on the hundreds of volunteers of this event. On the contrary it’s many of the volunteers that have come to us to help piece the truth of this mess out. We are asking legitimate questions that people of integrity and good faith should have zero problems answering.
After the 2010 Lift Off Mr Savard abruptly left as President of Lift Off. He was replaced by President of the Cornwall and Area Chamber of Commerce President Rick Shaver who also left weeks after signing on to be replaced by Judi Auger of Exit Realty.
Before the start of the 2011 event The City elected to write a cheque to Lift Off for $30K without going through standard process. It was highly unusual and quite unfair to groups that had their funding cut that year or couldn’t apply because of the criteria of funding.
The media were told that sponsorship was down, which it was including the Downtown BIA who pulled all funding to the festival.
Inside sources have told us that it was essentially pushed through by CAO of Cornwall Paul Fitzpatrick.
There even was a ceremony at the 2011 Lift Off to celebrate the returning of the monies which was even odder as it drew further attention to the festivals troubles.
Mr. Savard wrote on his “HUB” that the reason why he left his festival was an illness of his new son from his new spouse; however that didn’t stop him from starting a completely new and highly time consuming business (in addition to his duties as Manager of Cornwall Square) and his son’s illness didn’t hamper his sports pool activities. Nor did he return to lead the group (as far as is officially known).
Which brings us to January of 2012 a time when things should be in full gear for the festival.
The Lift Off web site which is managed by Mr. Savard (TMI Graphics is another of his businesses that he chose to spend time on instead of Lift Off) has not been updated in quite awhile other than to delete most pages related to 2010.
The Kinsmen via their President Mr. Galvin are refusing comment not only to CFN but other media. Likewise the Lift Off committee are also being secretive.
So the questions are few and simple ones.
What happened to the monies from 2010?
Are the Kinsmen still sponsoring Lift Off for 2012?
Who is on the Lift Off board as of this date, and why is it such a secret??
Why did Lift Off pull their funding request from Cornwall off of the table?
Why have the 2010 Lift Off web pages been deleted but the site not updated?
Why did the CAO ram through the $30K unsecured loan in 2011, and the biggie for the hundreds of volunteers who are the real victims of this mess; will there be a Lift Off fest in 2012?
Why did City Council and the Mayor Support the Unsecured $30K loan?
Why is Lift Off refusing to show their books?
I’m sure there are a few more questions, but the above are probably a good start. Personally I think if nothing else the hundreds of volunteers and taxpayers of Cornwall deserve some answers.
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