2019 was Cobalt Connects’ first year co-producing the festival with the City of Hamilton and you, our community event organizers. We piloted some new ideas, learned a lot more about what you do, and attracted sponsors to the festival for the first time in years.
Hamilton Winterfest is one of Hamilton’s longest running festivals, and we’re honoured to be part of the team. Based on our post-event survey with community organizers, we gained the following insights:
We want to build on this success by introducing some new initiatives, focusing the programming that Cobalt Connects delivers, and working with you to drive funding to community-level events.
This year Cobalt Connects is making some changes in an effort to better serve the overall development of Winterfest.
Last year’s marketing was great but we can keep improving. We’ll be printing a Winterfest Magazine (glossy, full colour) and distributing it to approximately 40,000 homes in Hamilton. We’re bringing back the Winterfest handwarmers (our version of a useful post card) and distributing 10,000 across the city. We’re making even more improvements to the website, collaborating on an app with Hamilton Rising, and launching some online programming (videos, podcast, etc.) to encourage guests to come back to the website over and over.
All this comes to you at no cost through City of Hamilton funding, and the support of the sponsors Cobalt Connects brings to the festival.
Hamilton Winterfest is funded in three ways:
There is no funding provided to Cobalt Connects to support granting to the community-level events. The funding received in 2018 was a one-time choice by the City, and funds received last year were taken from Cobalt Connects sponsor revenue.
Hamilton Winterfest is successful because of the combined effort of all of the events produced for the community through our partnership. The challenge is most of the events are rather small and don’t merit significant sponsorship support – but as a collection they’re very exciting.
To fuel the creation of a community-event granting fund, Cobalt Connects is proposing a collective approach to sponsorship. We’ve set a minimum in sponsorship amount that we need to fund all the marketing and programming elements on our end – this will be funded by existing sponsors that we’ve cultivated. For all sponsorship dollars raised over this minimum ($30,000), we’re going to share the proceeds with our community partners and signature events.
We’re thrilled to report we’re already past the $30,000 minimum with our returning sponsors.
With this in mind we’ve created a basic program that will help us recognize these overarching sponsors across the Winterfest offerings. It’s called the Beacon Program.
This brilliant idea came from our Winterfest Committee members. Following on the Doors Open example, Winterfest will now provide each event with an Ambassador and Beacon. The Ambassador will be a Winterfest volunteer who comes to your event and helps promote Winterfest. They’ll distribute marketing materials, handwarmers, our magazine, and generally help welcome your event guests.
They will also bring with them the Winterfest Beacon. The beacon will be a battery-powered glowing icon that includes the logos of the top 5 sponsors of Winterfest. It will be fun, common across all events, and completely taken care of by us. This will help visitors identify your event as a Winterfest offering.
In an effort to bring new benefits to our Hamilton Winterfest partners, we’re also seeking out sponsors who have goods or services that are used by many of us.
We’re actively working on a print sponsor that will provide discounted pricing to any Winterfest event. We’ll keep you posted on that.
Last year Cobalt Connects created a series of signature events and the Canteen. Our signature events were fun but the feedback from our community event organizers was that they competed with existing Winterfest family programming. We want to respect your history and leave the family events to you. So we are focusing our energy on adult programming. We have partnered with FROST BITES, La Nuit and the Hamilton Flea to create a Winterfest Hub at the Hamilton Waterfront Trust building.
The Canteen was a huge success last year, but it needed more resources to work the kinks out. This year the Canteen will be its own unit and will be traveling to upwards of 30 events across the city – events just like yours.
The Canteen will include:
The Canteen can come to your event at no cost, and can add some fun and energy for your audience. Spaces are limited so please indicate your interest on the event application form.