VIRGINIA BEACH — City-sponsored festivals and events should provide an accounting of funds in order to continue to receive support, a festival task force recommended to the City Council Tuesday.

It was one of many priorities the group laid out in a report meant to guide policies on city-sponsored events as well as how Oceanfront public parks are used throughout the year.

The council-appointed 90-day Festival Task Force reviewed the cost-benefit of city sponsorships as Virginia Beach continues to ramp up its annual event lineup at the Oceanfront.

City Council members want to improve the process of qualifying for sponsorships and establish more accountability on how the money is spent including by formalizing standards promotors must follow if they are seeking city financial support.

But not all of the recommendations sat well with council members, including the suggestion that smaller community events be barred from the resort area during the height of the tourist season.

“The notion that a community event shouldn’t be able to occur during the resort season if it doesn’t produce hotel nights feels exclusionary,” said Councilman Michael Berlucchi.

The task force also recommended the creation of a “community events committee” that would be responsible for reviewing funding for community festivals. Over the past couple of years, Virginia Beach has seen an increase in the number of festival organizers asking for financial support not allocated in the annual city budget. The task force wants to avoid using funds from the city’s tourism tax fund for community events, though residents throughout the city contribute to the fund through taxes from admissions and meals, among others, said Councilman Chris Taylor.

Instead, the task force said sponsorships of community events should come from the city’s general fund and criteria would include events that appeal to diverse audiences, promote a positive image for the city and benefit the local economy, in that order.

Taylor shrugged off the idea of a committee.

“We have a lot of committees already,” he said. “I’m not sure we need another one.”

The council is not obligated to act on the report. The task force consisted of 16 voting members including one designated by each council member, representatives of the Resort Advisory Commission, the Arts and Humanities Commission, the Minority Business Council, the Central Business District Association, the Virginia Beach Hotel Association, and the Virginia Beach Restaurant Association.

The task force also recommended that city staff vet large-scale “tourism” festivals for possible city financial support. The criteria for review is similar to that of community events, but ranks the benefit to the local economy as the top priority, followed by creating a positive image for the city and the community benefit. The task force defined tourism festivals as those generating a minimum of 1,000 hotel room nights. The City Council would ultimately decide whether to award the funds.

New or smaller community events should try to collaborate with more experienced event producers, such as the city’s entertainment contractor, the task force recommended.

Nearly 200 special events including festivals, races and parades were held in the resort area in 2023 with 35 of them encompassing more than 10 blocks, according to the Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau.

But not all city-sponsored festivals produce an economic return on investment. Virginia Beach spent more than $4 million to turn a profit of roughly $1 million on a total of eight large-scale festivals last year. The city lost money on two non-ticketed events: The Boardwalk Art Show held in October and Jackalope adventure sports festival held last June. The Jackalope festival is returning to 31st Street this weekend.

The council agreed that more discussion on festivals is needed.

“You all moved the needle,” said Councilman Worth Remick. “This is a work in progress.”

Stacy Parker, 757-222-5125,