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Mermaid Society festival seeks funds from city council

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The Mermaid Society SMTX, a nonprofit organization, successfully submitted a request to the city council to support the second annual Mermaid SPLASH festival, but the source of the funds is yet to be determined.

The request received four votes at the city council meeting June 27 in favor of moving forward with securing funds for the project. The festival is scheduled for Sept. 2-17.

The organization hosts the festival as a way of providing a creative platform for local artists while promoting a sense of community by using the mermaid as a symbol of the city’s history and culture.

July Moreno, Mermaid Society SMTX founder and executive director, said her group sought the support from the city council for this year’s festival in order to foster a sense of unity throughout the community.

“Like Fiesta does in San Antonio, where everyone is involved and able to profit from it, this is how I hope the festival will be able to do in San Marcos,” Moreno said.

During the two weeks, there will be art exhibitions, live music and performances, film screenings and other events.

The Mermaid Society SMTX has asked for a total of $25,000 to fund direct costs for the festival. Members of the organization have also taken it upon themselves to raise additional funds for any indirect costs.

Although the council has voted to support the event, no exact amount or source of the funds has been determined. However, as festival planning moves forward, this is a good first step for the Mermaid Society SMTX.

Moreno, who was a member of the San Marcos Arts Commission, said she sought out $27,000 through the commission to fund last year’s festival, but chose to go to the city council this year to avoid a conflict of interest.

“It wasn’t just the funding of the $25,000 that we needed,” Moreno said. “This was also about creating a partnership with the city that would involve their promotion of the event.”

Moreno said the event, which coincides with Family Weekend at Texas State, is expected to draw twice as many people as the previous year’s festival, despite the fact they have requested less money.

“Families visiting the city for the first time will be in for an amazing experience,” Moreno said. “They’re going to be able to attend the festival, the parade, the tailgate and Texas State football game. It’s going to bring in people to shop, eat and drink, which will bring money to the city.”

The funding requested by the group will be specifically for the Mermaid Downtown Parade and Mermaid Aqua Faire events.

Councilwoman Lisa Prewitt, Place 6, said she sees the opportunity as a way of bringing together people and the city’s traditions and culture.

“It brings our old and new community members together in a venue that teaches about things like stewardship of the river and celebrates the arts in San Marcos,” Prewitt said.

Prewitt said a potential source of funds for the project could come from the city’s hotel occupancy tax funds, which are reserved to promote events, such as the Mermaid SPLASH festival, to bring tourists to the city.

“There’s no set commitment of how much or from where the money will come,” Prewitt said. “The city manager has yet to come back with any definite sources, but this could potentially come back to the city council for final approval to use funds from the HOT tax.”

Once sources are found to fund the festival, the motion will be brought back to city council for final approval. Prewitt said the city will be in full support of the event as the particulars are worked out.