SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. (WZZM) - After 14 years in Saugatuck, the Waterfront Film Festival is changing locations next year, moving to South Haven.
Waterfront Film Festivalco-founder Hopwood DePree confirmed the change late Tuesday afternoon.
DePree says the film festival will have a rotating schedule, with one or two years in each town. He says Saugatuck, Grand Haven and St. Joseph also submitted proposals to host the festival, but South Haven was best equipped to host in 2013.
"South Haven already has venues ready and they have a history of hosting festivals with a strong volunteer base," DePree told WZZM 13.
DePree said festival organizers are also considering other cities, not necessarily on the lakeshore. When asked if Grand Rapids was a possibility, DePree said "We're certainly interested in talking to other cities."
The Waterfront Film Festival will be held in South Haven June 13-16, 2013.
Below is a news release from the Waterfront Film Festival:
Saugatuck, Michigan, Oct. 2, 2012 - The Waterfront Film Festival is officially going on the road. After several months of meeting with leaders in prospective cities, WFF organizers announced today that the nationally recognized 15th annual non-profit event will take place in South Haven, Michigan, June 13-16, 2013.
"We are absolutely thrilled" said South Haven Mayor Robert Burr. "South Haven has a long tradition of celebrating the arts and it will be a pleasure to showcase our town to the thousands of visitors the Waterfront Film Festival draws to West Michigan."
The proactive South Haven proposal put forth by the city includes a pledge of $50,000 in sponsorship and fundraising efforts, PR professionals with strong ties to the Chicago market, committed local business organizations and volunteer groups, shuttle service, office space, and many in-kind donations including some lodging for guests. There is also a movie theater in town and a 540-seat luxury auditorium theater, which will help cut down on the rising costs of creating the makeshift theaters the festival has dealt with in the past.
Grand Haven and Saint Joseph both submitted enthusiastic and strong proposals, with Saint Joseph making a fundraising pledge of $75,000 each year to host WFF in 2015-16. Organizers will begin working with these cities to plan future events. All three cities understood that WFF could no longer continue in Saugatuck without a resolution to the current financial and logistical issues the volunteer event has faced there.
"We appreciate Saugatuck and are talking with city leaders about resolving the current issues so that Waterfront Film Festival can potentially return there at some point in the future. This reinvention will benefit more people in West Michigan and will keep the non-profit organization functioning," said Hopwood DePree, WFF co-founder. "The enthusiasm from the communities that submitted applications has been inspiring."