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Cucalorus Festival Gets State Economic Development Funds

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Jun 29, 2017
Cucalorus Festival's new logo that shows its expended brand. (Image from Cucalorus)
The Cucalorus Festival will get a boost for its marketing and advertising this year with funds from the state.

North Carolina’s budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year passed Wednesday after the state House and Senate overrode a veto by Gov. Roy Cooper. Though a small line item in the multi-million-dollar budget, the Cucalorus Film Festival fell under the line of appropriated funds to the Rural Economic Development Division of the Department of Commerce.

The funding is set to go toward the festival’s Connect Conference in Wilmington.

A total of $50,000 has been allocated to the Cucalorus Film Foundation this year to provide funds for advertising and marketing the annual five-day conference in Wilmington. According to the budget, the commerce department will provide $1 for every non-state dollar provided in kind or otherwise, up to a maximum of $50,000 for a matching grant.

According to Dan Brawley, executive director of the Cucalorus Film Foundation, Sen. Michael Lee, R-New Hanover, has been working with the group and has been supportive in helping them grow the audience of the festival.

“We’re excited. This is kind of a first for Cucalorus,” Brawley said Thursday. “And the timing is perfect.”

All of the advertising for the festival comes from donations, he said. The matching funds will help expand the festival's marketing both regionally and nationally.

The state funds will be used in part for a local marketing campaign geared toward attracting those in underserved areas of the community, Brawley said. The rest of the funds will go toward a national campaign to draw in startup companies, entrepreneurs and business leaders from around the country, Brawley said.

The funding is one of several big changes for the Connect Conference this year, aimed a growing the future of the conference.

The festival recently formed the Cucalorus Connect Executive Board made of up more than 20 men and women from various businesses, organizations and industries in the region. The executive board also named Tom Looney, who has decades of experience in the tech industry and has worked with the likes of Steve Jobs, its new president.

The conference takes place Nov. 8-12 at Cape Fear Community College’s Union Station building in downtown Wilmington this year.

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