Memorial Park in Tilbury. (Photo by Matt Weverink).

Revamped ‘Art in Memorial Park Tilbury’ pushes forward with new organizers

A group of four organizers are under a time crunch as they try to save a beloved Tilbury summer-time event.

Councillor Mark Authier is one of the organizers of a revamped group, which will host Art in Memorial Park Tilbury on August 17. He said the event, in essence, will be like the original Art in the Park Tilbury (AIP), it just has a new name with a new group of people in charge.

Authier said the original event was recently cancelled, however, vendors who had already paid to participate, claim that they have not been refunded and are unable to get ahold of James Mason, the main organizer behind AIP.

“I reached out to [Mason on Monday, July 8] and left a message and did not hear anything back from him at all… that seems to be the case with everybody that’s owed money,” said Authier. “It’s frustrating. People paid [for the event], some paid for winter shows, some paid for winter and the summer shows and they’re not getting feedback from this gentleman whatsoever.”

Since the event is popular within the community, efforts are underway to preserve it and help local vendors. Authier said a meeting was held Monday night to go over plans for the event, which includes securing vendors and volunteers. It was also agreed upon during Monday’s meeting, that AIP vendor receipts would be collected and taken to Chatham-Kent police.

However, on Wednesday night, Authier said several AIP vendors were sent an email stating that AIP has declared bankruptcy.

Authier read the email, which cites several factors behind the bankruptcy declaration, including the rising infrastructure costs, a lack of title sponsors, two cancelled Christmas shows, and associated advertising costs. According to the email, AIP has been running “a financial deficit since 2015”.

AIP bankruptcy paperwork is expected to be sent to vendors and suppliers who are owed money so that they can file a claim.

Authier said now that AIP has declared bankruptcy, he’s not sure if charges can be laid against the AIP’s main organizer. That being said, a woman in charge of taking the receipts to police said it’s still the plan to do so despite the recent announcement.

Blackburn News has made multiple attempts to get in contact with AIP’s organizer, however, Mason has not responded to those requests.

In the meantime, vendors who paid for the AIP event will get a bit of a financial break with Art in Memorial Park Tilbury. Authier said the vendors who had already paid for AIP, have been offered a lower rate of $25 to participate in the new event.

“It puts us in a tough situation because obviously, we need to charge a little less because we don’t want the [vendors] to pay that much more when they already paid once,” said Authier.

Although the new group is doing what they can to help out local vendors, Authier stresses that Art in Memorial Park Tilbury is different than that of the original AIP.

“It’s a new group that is going to be very responsible with their money and make sure that people know what’s going on,” said Authier.

Although Art in Memorial Park Tilbury is scheduled to take place in August, it may be a little smaller than previous AIP events, considering the new group of organizers have had less time to get everything together.

“I’m hoping everything turns out as well as last year and if it doesn’t… we’ll definitely work on it for the next year,” said Authier. “We definitely want it to fly. It was a great thing for our community.”

Residents or vendors with questions can contact Authier or the three other administrators through the Art in Memorial Park Tilbury Facebook page.

The event is set for August 17, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.