Council Splits on Indiecade
City Sponsorship Approved 3-2
May 28, 2015
By Lynne Bronstein
Culver City will again be sponsoring the 2015 IndieCade videogame festival in downtown Culver City this October. But the City Council/Successor Agency’s vote to sponsor, at May 26’s meeting, did not come as easily as might have been expected.
The vote to sponsor and give in-kind financial assistance per the requests of IndieCade CEO Stephanie Barish was 3-2, with council members Andrew Weissman and Jeff Cooper voting against Barish’s request.
The two council members based their no vote on their skepticism in regard to expenditures listed in the spreadsheets for the 2014 and 2013 IndieCade festivals.
Barish was asking for in-kind financial assistance from the City and, in the case where the cost of such assistance was $1000 or more, City sponsorship. Her list of requests included a request to the Successor Agency to waive the $572 rental fee for one day for Parcel B, which is used as the site for most of the festival’s features.
Weissman had a number of questions for Barish regarding relative costs for and income from the festival in past years (IndieCade is in its sixth year in Culver City).
Noting that Barish had described IndieCade as a “success,” Weissman cited the income for the 2013 festival as over $153,000, of which $45,000 came from ticket sales. In 2014, however, income from IndieCade was listed as $181,000, with less income from ticket sales than in 2013. Weissman wanted to know the reason for this.
Barish replied: “[In 2014] we cut the ticket price in half-to be more accessible.”
To offset the decreased ticket sales, Barish had obtained more private sponsors. Weissman found the variation in sponsors confusing.
He continued to query Barish on a number of other expenditures such as increased security at the 2014 event.
When he asked her if the various companies she hired for services were Culver City companies, Barish explained that she hired the companies that were “the cheapest.” She said that she took bids to find “the best” in terms of cost.
Weissman and Cooper were both dismayed that obtaining a balance sheet on profit and loss took so long. Cooper said he had not had time to study the balance sheet and was uncomfortable voting “yes” on the request.
However, Mayor Mehaul O’Leary, Jim Clarke, and Megan Sahli-Wells were satisfied with the request and gave their approval.
The popular IndieCade event will be taking place October 22-25 and will again feature “cutting edge” videogames from all over the world. Barish emphasized to the council that there would be “diversity” in this year’s show with videogames by women, people of color, and international videogame programmers featured.
Barish’s request included some new and changed elements: use of the Fire Station for additional hours; use of the City Hall courtyard for the outdoor IndieCade Night Games; use of the Council chambers for the Froday portion of the event (there is no rental fee involved for use of the chambers); use of rooms at Veteran’s Auditorium for additional events; and Beer Garden open throughout entire event instead of only on Friday night for four hours.
Last year City Council approved a fee waiver for the in-kind costs in an amount of $13,360. This year the value approved is $16,223.