Tricentennial work needed to stay in city
Thankfully, even bad things come to an end.
The City of Natchez’s Convention and Visitors Bureau are, finally, done paying an overpriced consultant to lead fundraising efforts for the Natchez Tricentennial.
Jennifer Barbee and her Texas-based team were hired in 2013 on the claim they could raise between $5 and $10 million to help Natchez throw a yearlong spectacular 300th birthday party.
As of May, Barbee had only raised between $200,000 and $250,000, and she didn’t seem all that hopeful about the months to come.
Barbee recently terminated her contract with the CVB. That’s good news, really.
Yes, the CVB has most likely lost money in the deal. They paid Barbee more than $244,000 for the fundraising and a few other projects, which she did complete.
And now the CVB is left with less time to do the fundraising itself. The CVB made a colossal mistake in believing the astounding figure of funds raised was achievable.
The fundraising work will now be handled, as it should have been from the start, by paid CVB employees and members of the volunteer tricentennial commission. Barbee’s plan was dead before it got started. The goal was unreasonable and unattainable.
We challenge Natchez Mayor Butch Brown and the CVB to start off the renewed fundraising effort with a more realistic budget; then help the volunteers make a plan for achieving that.
We wish them luck in their efforts and hope the party can still go on, even if scaling it back to a more reasonable event size is necessary. Hopefully in the future, the CVB and the city will be more careful before farming out work to out-of-town consultants who promise the sky.
Sometimes what is needed is just a little grassroots groundswell — and some common sense.