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Help park programs

Families, Movies in the Park programs need financial help

Hood River Community Education will be asking its sponsors who have supported the popular Movies in the Park and Families in the Park entertainment series in past years to give a little bit more this summer to ensure these events will have enough funding to survive.

John Rust, director for Community Ed, said the organization is asking its $100 sponsors to increase their support to $200 to help defray the rising costs of producing the events, which are held in Jackson Park and are free to the public.

“The rising costs for the events include park rental fees — the park rental used to be free, but the city is charging us $620 for the Movies and $620 for the Families in the Park — movie licensing, band costs continue to slowly rise, and sound system production,” Rust explained.

Both events have been entirely funded by sponsors in the past, but the entertainment cost for Families in the Park, which features a live music act every Thursday evening in August, is significantly more expensive. Rust noted that while movie rights run about $125 per showing, each band charges anywhere from $2,500 to $5,000.

This year will also be more expensive than others because August happens to have five Thursdays instead of four, which means five bands instead of four. Rust said Community Ed has been looking for grant money this year to help offset costs as well as cheaper bands that still deliver quality entertainment.

“These events, we want to make sure they pencil out and are worth the funding,” he noted.

Though Movies and Families in the Park are supported by the generosity of sponsors, the employees and administrators for Community Ed are funded by the Hood River County School District, which is currently considering slashing $80,000 from Community Ed’s $780,000 budget.

Although he said that wouldn’t necessarily hurt Families in the Park and Movies in the Park, Rust said he was unsure what agency, if any, would take up these events if Community Ed ended up being entirely defunded in the future.

Any extra money that is received from sponsors for Families in the Park will go to support Community Ed’s wide variety of programming, including Primetime after-school programs, preschools, youth sports programs and adult continuing education classes.

Rust added, however, that Community Ed isn’t “making a bunch of money off these events,” and that the agency is just trying to find enough funding for Movies and Families in the Park so “we won’t be dangling at the precipice when it’s time.”

Movies in the Park kicks off Saturday, July 13, at dusk, with a showing of “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.” Families in the Park starts Thursday, Aug. 1, with Jacob Merlin, a seven-piece band.

The Port of Cascade Locks also puts on its own Movies in the Park, which begins Friday, July 26, with a showing of “Homeward Bound.”

A full schedule will appear in an upcoming edition of the Hood River News. For more information on the Hood River events, contact Community Ed at 541-386-2055 or visit hrcommunityed.org.

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