History Prize will go on without CVB, founder says.

February 6, 2015

By Rob Alway. Editor-in-Chief.

The Ludington Area Visitors and Convention Bureau has separated itself from History Prize. However, the founder of the organization says she will continue to bring the event to Ludington.

A press release from the CVB stated the History Prize Board met recently and voted unanimously to not be part of the event and further that the CVB was backing that decision.

“We loved the idea of History Prize and were initially very excited about being selected to host it since it fits well with Ludington’s rich cultural heritage,” said Bill Anderson, chairman of the History Prize board. “However, as we began the planning phase, we saw some red flags that led to this business decision.”

  Anderson continued, “While there may be initial disappointment, this is the right decision for Ludington long-term – and we wanted to make it now before local businesses invest significant capital in preparing for such an event.”

One of the concerns was generating sustainable funding sources, the press release stated. “The price tag to get an event like this off the ground could be almost $1 million – and with no firm commitments or prospects on the horizon, we can’t in good conscience begin planning a major event that may not be sustainable, let alone operational,” said Anderson.

Anderson also stated there was a concern with the ownership of the event.

“We discovered that we don’t own the rights to History Prize – and that puts us in a vulnerable position as the event could change or disappear without our control,” Anderson said.

Founder Mara MacKay, who currently resides in Marquette, said technically the History Prize board does not yet officially exist because History Prize is not an official organization. The advisory group put together, which would eventually become the board, met with her one time, in December, she said.

History Prize is described as a social experiment modeled after Art Prize, the popular event held each fall in Grand Rapids.

“We are just at the outset of putting our fund development plan in place and I believe that we can overcome the daunting task of raising funds that would make this possible for the community,” MacKay said.

“I am the founder of this event,” MacKay said. “I have only met with the group one time, back in December, and we hadn’t even discussed this yet.”

MacKay’s company, Old Wood LLC, owns the name History Prize. She said she plans to relocate her family to Mason County and she plans to continue to pursue history prize, hopefully for 2016, as originally planned.

“Statewide thousands of Michigan residents supported the History Prize Project with interest and enthusiasm,” she said. “Ludington residents will be joining regional and statewide advocates for History Prize as history enthusiasts, artists, creative business partners and Ludington and Scottville residents come together to make this event happen in west Michigan.”

She said she has had over 70 people respond to being part of informational meetings, scheduled for March and April.

“This event has lots of supporters around the region who have expressed a desire to see this event happen in Mason County. I have been in contact with many of the supporters already and they have stated they will continue to provide their support.”

She said not being affiliated with the CVB will not stop the event.

“An announcement by the Ludington CVB has not discouraged the local effort to make this community event a reality for west Michigan residents. “Although there are sometimes differences in leadership styles we are moving forward to tackle the significant fundraising goals and to create a wonderful event for and Ludington and Scottville on the west shore,” MacKay said.

More information on History Prize can be found on Facebook, here.

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