An increase in funding from two major sponsors this year will allow Cucalorus to explore bigger ideas and create some concrete ways to enhance the visitor experience.
New Hanover Regional Medical Center, which formerly was a $10,000 Innovation level sponsor, has doubled its contribution level to become a Visionary Sponsor of this fall’s event, at which Cucalorus Festival will celebrate its 25th anniversary, according to a news release Tuesday.
Century 21 Sweyer & Associates has signed on to be an Innovation Sponsor.
As part of NHRMC’s contribution to the festival, Chris Hillier, its director of innovation, is working closely with Cucalorus on new ideas large and small, according to Cucalorus director Dan Brawley. It could also result in some health-promoting handouts, like pedometers, to encourage Cucalorus-goers to walk around downtown during their visit.
“Chris immediately saw the connection between creativity and technology, and how that opens up new opportunities to create a community that matters and cares about each other,” Brawley said Wednesday. He added that the two are trying also to bring people to Wilmington for the festival who are innovators in health care.
As part of its involvement in the festival, Sweyer & Associates will work with Cucalorus to develop an interactive map of downtown Wilmington that will show the various Cucalorus event venues but also will include a self-guided tour of locations where the film Blue Velvet was shot.
“We have filmmakers coming from all over the world who don’t realize that Blue Velvet was made here,” Brawley said about the iconic David Lynch film that came out in 1986, adding that in previous years many people had searched out the shooting locations themselves. The new map will make the search easier but will also draw increased attention to Wilmington’s history as a film destination.
“It’s a small way to highlight that legacy,” Brawley said.
NHRMC and Century 21 Sweyer & Associates join about 120 other festival sponsors at levels that range from the $20,000 Visionary to the $750 Startup.
A broadening sponsor base is one factor in the festival’s growth. Brawley said that growth over the past 10-plus years has averaged about 15% annually in terms of audience size, gross revenues and number of events.
“If we all got on a bus and drove back to 2005, you would see an incredible transformation,” he said. “It’s been an incredible journey. We’re growing with the city of Wilmington, but we’re still able to maintain [the festival] as a high-quality, intimate experience [that] builds long-term relationships, partnerships and collaborations. We are focused on bringing people together.”
NHRMC’s Hillier sees Cucalorus as more than just a cultural attraction.
“As culture, society, and business are struggling to keep up with new powerful technologies able to influence almost every part of our lives, we, more than ever, need to understand how the future will look,” Hillier said in the release. “This is where, to me, the Cucalorus Festival is a Jewel in the Crown of Wilmington’s calendar. It attracts an eclectic mix of creative, business and tech participants who understand how art and science coexist and can influence each other, while describing, whether in music, dance, film, or writing, what it will mean to be human in the future.”
Century 21 Sweyer & Associates’ owner and general manager Jeff Sweyer said his company was proud to be part of the festival’s 25th anniversary year.
“Deciding to sponsor Cucalorus was an easy decision, as this is a major cultural event in Wilmington,” he said in the release.