Since 2008 the free event has drawn tens of thousands of kids to downtown El Paso every year on the first weekend of Spring. This year, funding was not enough to cover the costs of running the event, according to Ruth Ellen Jacobson, Executive Director of the El Paso Symphony Orchestra, the organization that owns and coordinates Kidspalooza.
“The city pulled our funding,” she told El Paso 411. Kidspalooza was part of KickstART, a public grant under the Museums and Cultural Affairs Department’s(MCAD) Cultural Funding Program that supports arts, cultural and sporting events that activate and enrich downtown El Paso.
The event has received $60,000 from the program in the last 6 years, according to Ben Fyffe, Assistant Director of the MCAD. Fyffee says that the city didn’t directly pull the funds from the event, but instead, the El Paso Symphony Orchestra applied to fund other projects within their organization, leaving Kidspalooza out in their 2018 application. The El Paso Symphony Orchestra is a recipient of other grants from the Cultural Funding Program. They’ve received an additional $200,000 in the last ten years for several projects not related to Kidspalooza.
Funding limits were put in place four years ago due to a growing number of applications.
“Four years ago we changed the guidelines because we had a widening pool of people looking for funding,” said Fyfee. “We have the same funds to spread out to everyone.”
The El Paso MCAD Cultural Funding Program funded about eighteen percent of Kidspalooza’s annual budget in previous years. The program receives up to 80 applications every year, with about 60 approved, according to Fyffee.
Kidspalooza is known for having the largest collaboration of non-profits and civic organizations, including the El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso Museum of History, the El Paso Parks and Recreation Department, Insights El Paso Science Museum, Creative Kids, and Kids-N-Co. Sun Metro provided free bus rides to various parts of the event, which spanned several city blocks. Additionally, dozens of kid-friendly vendors, partners, sponsors and food trucks participated in the event. Previous years attracted upwards of 25,000 people on a single day to downtown El Paso.
Jacobson says they are working to restructure the event and are hoping to bring it back in the future.
“We’re going to shelf it,” she said. “We’re going to look for more funding and hope to bring it back soon to downtown.”