The equity issues looming over Moogfest and the Art of Cool
April 06, 2016
Over the past 60 years, as high-speed interstates have been built parallel to the smaller highways — I-85 and U.S. 70, for example — the towns along the two-laners have withered. Yes, we want to drive faster, with six lanes of open road spread before us. We want to fill our tanks at a mega-Sheetz and grab a latte at Starbucks and a burger at McDonald’s. But in opting for six lanes instead of two, our wallets bypass the small filling stations, the downtown coffee shops and diners. The little guys lose.
This is the comparison I thought of at last week’s City Council work session when organizers for two festivals, Moogfest (Interstate) and the Art of Cool (Highway), asked the city for money to help them offset costs of producing their respective events at several venues all over town.
Moogfest organizers asked the city and the county for a total of $135,000 — $62,500 from each — to cover half of the cost of free community programs. (The amount covers none of the ticketed events.) The balance of the $276,000 for this purpose would be covered by private sponsors.
Meanwhile, AOC, after being rejecting by the county for a $5,000 ask, approached the city for $20,000 to offset the costs of renting lights, sound and a stage for a large show at the Durham Armory.
On Monday, Moogfest got its $62,500; AOC is expected to receive some funding, but the amount won’t be voted on for two weeks — shortly before the festival begins.
This is not a question of whether a city should invest in the arts; both festivals will enliven Durham’s culture. It is an issue, though, of equity. And, as City Councilwoman Cora Cole-McFadden noted at Monday night’s regular council meeting, a “racial” one.
From a social capital perspective, Moogfest is powered by the substantial muscle of the city’s startup and tech culture, with the full promotional backing of the chamber, the convention and visitors bureau, and the American Tobacco Campus.
AOC is at a financial disadvantage — at least in terms of economic impact, which unfortunately is the main metric of success — precisely because it’s young and homegrown. If you live in Durham and attend AOC, it’s unlikely that you’re staying in a hotel, taking Uber or a cab to the airport, or dining out for every meal.
And frankly, AOC, while its offices are in the American Underground, still hasn’t been fully embraced by, well, I’ll say it, white culture.
In its third year, AOC, is a homegrown, fledgling jazz festival, scheduled for May 6-8. By festival standards, AOC has a small budget — $342,000 — and, typical for nascent events, has yet to turn a profit. (By comparison, Hopscotch in Raleigh didn't earn a profit in 2011 and 2012, when the INDY owned it. I’ve not been privy to revenue numbers since the paper and the festival were sold.)
More than two-thirds of AOC’s audience is black, according to 2015 festival figures, and the event is known for showcasing high-profile and up-and-coming African-American artists. It includes free community programs, as well.
“We are very grassroots,” AOC President Cicely Mitchell told City Council.
Two-thirds of AOC’s budget comes from ticket sales. Prices are modest, with student and senior passes running $25, and nightly club passes costing $50. The all-access VIP package is $285. Last weekend, AOC offered discount on ticket prices, which indicates sales could be slower than anticipated.
Two weeks later, enter Moogfest, which started as an electronic music extravaganza in 2004 in New York, then moved to Asheville for a decade, and is marking its first year in Durham, May 19–22. (The festival is always held as close as possible to Robert Moog’s birthday, May 23.)
In 2014, its budget totaled $2.7 million, but the festival lost $1.5 million. Buncombe County rejected the festival’s request for $250,000.
This year, Moogfest’s theme is Afro-Futurism, which combines elements of black culture, jazz and science fiction. While that presents some issues with audience overlap, that’s not a guarantee of black audiences. Several years ago, the Durham Arts Council mounted a Sun Ra exhibition, and a performance by local musicians and a parade. The crowd was largely white.
Like AOC, Moogfest will include free community programs. A festival pass is $249, and the VIP version runs $400. Single-day tickets range from $49–$89. [In 2014, that was the price of single-day tickets; as a commenter noted below, there are no single-day tickets this year. Thus you're in for 249 clams or you're not going.]
The ticket prices reflect the income of the festival’s audience. Emmy Parker, creative director for Moogfest, emphasized the wealth of its audience, which, she said, is “very educated and mature, with 60 percent of festival goers earning household incomes of more than $100,000 a year.”
Unfortunately, a festival’s worth, at least in terms of public funding, has been distilled into the hocus-pocus financial modeling that determines its economic impact. And part of that equation is whether a festival draws out-of-town guests who book hotel rooms (Moogfest audience) or attracts a largely local or regional audience that doesn’t (AOC).
According to 2016 projections by the DCVB, 4,350 people will attend AOC this year, compared to 10,250 for Moogfest. But the primary financial difference is the overnight spending: $932,846 for AOC, and $3.7 million for Moogfest. When all of the visitor spending is accounted for (food, transportation, etc.), Moogfest’s value added to the Durham economy is $4.9 million, compared to AOC’s, which is $1.1 million.
At last week’s Council work session, Shelly Green of the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau, (perhaps sensing the tension in the room over the equity between the two festivals) noted that Art of Cool’s economic impact “has grown exponentially from $500,000 to $1.6 million. It has a smaller budget. It’s new festival. Moog been around long time. It’s hard to compare,” she said.
Yet that's exactly what the city is doing in its funding decisions — decisions that don't account for what Councilman Steve Schewel, a former owner of Hopscotch, called “the subjective elements.”
Lost in the talk of dollars and cents, hotel beds and taxes generated, is that AOC started in Durham and, even if it's smaller than Moogfest, is nonetheless part of the city's cultural fabric. It would be a shame to see AOC fail because the chamber and DCVB — and the public — don't value it. Yes, technoshamanism — using technology to inspire a spiritual experience — sounds sexy. But I would argue that a Terence Blanchard performance can elicit an equally transcendental state of mind.
“This is our homegrown festival,” Schewel said of AOC. “It’s diverse and financially accessible. Those are important virtues.”
The Art of Cool has a really great line up this year, it's beyond Jazz: The internet, Anderson Paak (check this guy out he was one of the big surprises in SXSW), Kamasi, Moonchild ...You can see it's a well curated Festival with a unique identity, a fully local footprint and very much what we should be pursuing for the city branding.
Posted by: Astherion | April 06, 2016 at 10:27 AM
Divide the supposed total economic impacts by the total numbers of attendees. Then sit back and laugh aloud at these claims you rightly label "hocus-pocus."
Posted by: Dave Neill | April 06, 2016 at 10:33 AM
@Dave The DCVB acknowledges that these figures come from models, not solely hard numbers. I compare them to the use of multiplier effects, which may or may not be accurate, but are an organization's best guess.
Posted by: Lisa Sorg | April 06, 2016 at 11:23 AM
The crazy part of the City's argument is that the AOC festival is smaller. If they gave the AOC festival more funding, then it could afford to get bigger name acts to play, which would in turn create a larger return and more marketing opportunities. Sounds like more City Bull to me when it comes to supporting local arts efforts.
Posted by: Michelle Gonzales-Green | April 06, 2016 at 11:42 AM
I did not realize single-day tickets were an option for Moogfest; had looked for that option on their site and been unable to find it.
Posted by: Will | April 06, 2016 at 11:46 AM
Will, I had to dig to find single-day tickets. Literally by Googling "Moogfest" "single day tickets"
Posted by: Lisa Sorg | April 06, 2016 at 11:53 AM
@Dave - adding to the hocus pocus, Councilwoman Cole-McFadden stated that AOC is headed by a black woman, while Moogfest is headed by a white woman. Moog's Emmy Parker sure doesn't look white to me: https://www.linkedin.com/in/emmy-parker-a6173a74
It's a shame when racial equity warriors get their facts wrong. It just undermines their credibility.
Posted by: anon | April 06, 2016 at 11:58 AM
This kind of begs the question: What is the purpose of taxpayer investment in these programs?
Maybe we need to back up and decide that, or come up with a way so everyone can come to the table.
Where does this money come from? Are there "buckets" for these? Can Moogfest come from the economic development bucket? And AOC come from a community arts bucket? Maybe the problem is trying to make apples-to-apples comparisons when these are different things.
I don't know a single thing about how Moogfest vs AOC is structured, from a business perspective, that would allow this?
Just a thought.
Posted by: Aaron | April 06, 2016 at 12:04 PM
@anon - Councilwoman Cole-McFadden is correct. Emmy Parker is Moog's Creative Director, not the overall Festival Director - who is a white woman.
Posted by: RBenjamin | April 06, 2016 at 12:10 PM
It looks like there were single day tickets available in 2014 but not this year. I emailed the organizer and was told there would not be single day or event tickets available. Glad to know there will be some free community events.
Posted by: anon | April 06, 2016 at 12:13 PM
The equity issues looming - Research shows that some live further from transit than others!
The equity issues looming - Some houses in Durham found to be larger than others!
The equity issues looming - Duke pays a higher average wage than other Durham employers!
The equity issue looming - PhDs are disproportionately white, and PhDs make more money than others!
The equity issues looming - DPAC Charges More Per Ticket than Beyu!
This solutions-looking-for-a-problem approach gets old after a while.
Posted by: anon | April 06, 2016 at 01:25 PM
Hey @anon you're missing the over-arching point---Art of Cool (AOC) is a homegrown, authentic-to-Durham festival that should be celebrated, supported and nurtured by the city it calls home. Instead, it's been pushed to the back seat in favor of a festival that is none of those things. Further, Moogfest is a for-profit entity while AOC is a non-profit entity with more "skin in the game" when it comes to local economic growth potential, diversity and cultural development of a city that beats its chest as the "cooler" more diverse of the three triangle cities. AOC not only hosts this festival each year but also runs a jazz camp for young, talented kids and has recently launched a diversity in tech initiative entitled Innovate Your Cool. How does this not garner more support from the city? Frankly, it's inequitable that two equally distinct and intriguing festivals have been pitted against each other in the public sphere. AOC is not asking for support at the expense of Moogfest. AOC just wants its city to put its money (and support) where its mouth is. Durham wins (and wins big) if both of these festivals thrive. The evidence however points to Durham betting on one festival over the other. This is where the equity argument comes in. AOC didn't ask for $130,000. AOC requested a sixth of that. The disparity itself is laughable but the fact that the decision was delayed begs some investigation no? Even more perplexing is your choice to argue the racial nuance of the argument instead of focusing on the disparity (and the reasons thereof) instead.
Posted by: Sam | April 06, 2016 at 02:13 PM
This city should support the Art of Cool with full force! Good people, amazing festival!
Posted by: Leon Grodski Barrera | April 06, 2016 at 02:15 PM
I will give Moogfest credit for having a diverse lineup which is something this article fails to mention. Even though they have more that appeals to white audiences in their much larger festival they also have 919 area rappers King Mez, Professor Toon, and Well$ on the bill as more than just token offerings to go along with GZA of the Wu Tang. Other PoC are on the bill too and aren't just pigeonholed to hip hop either; Dev Hynes is on top billing as Blood Orange for instance. They deserve a hat tip for offering students $99 passes for the festival instead of $250 ones and partnering with local record stores to sell them too. But it feels like a massive f u to everyone else who isn't a student that can't afford or isn't interested in the complete festival not to offer single day passes or at least a payment plan system. That closes off accessibility to a lot of people.
It's also worth noting that Moogfest is longer in duration and has more extensive programming compared to Art of Cool. It's not just snake oil or hocus pocus when the Moogfest people say they will generate more economic activity. They have a point. Ultimately, if the Art of Cool festival can't generate more ticket sales or find more sponsorship that is the market in Durham speaking for itself. The question to me is how much further should the city and county be going in order to subsidize them.
I like what Aaron is suggesting about sourcing the money from different funds. I do think that Art of Cool should be recognized more for the fact it is a locally owned and focus in catering to the local jazz/art scene. Moogfest is not trying to focus as much attention locally and deserves to be kept happy for its economic impact. If the city or county could include caveats to try and convince Moogfest to make the festival more accessible in their pricing structures in order to keep receiving public assistance I think they should. But I do think a direct one on one comparison between the two is hard and finger pointing about why one gets more money than the other misses the point.
Posted by: Rick | April 06, 2016 at 02:37 PM
Interesting. Following Rick, as far as the hip hop side of things goes, it is interesting that AoC has seemed to go with the fairly well established "9th Wonder camp" if you will, while Moogfest has decided to go for up and coming artists of the area(this does not include the well on his way King Mez of course). There may have been some overlap of interest in booking these artists or AoC's focus on local jazz caused them to overlook some local hip hop talent, but who knows.
Both festivals are awesome entities and hopefully they both get what they need to continue. It is important to note that they have both done very cool events outside of their festival weekends. From Rich Medina at The Vault to Disco Brunch at The Durham, these are great things for the city of Durham and for music lovers. There is a large part of me that does enjoy giving to an establishment like The Vault more than our new fancy hotel, but there is no reason not to enjoy awesome music in the area. It should be noted that Disco brunch was free to attend, which is really cool. Ten bucks to see a legend like Rich Medina should be no problem for any music lover either. If AoC had more money to fling around, perhaps we could see similarly free events thrown around by them throughout the year as well. (I may have overlooked free events throughout the year by AoC, but not sure) AoC's yearly free show on the lawn has been great minus the weather dimming the party last year.
Here's to hoping they can coincide in Durham and both have strong backing and be celebrated by the city and citizens *who can or cannot afford tickets*. The argument of AoC being Durham homegrown is very important, but Moogfest's dedication to the city cannot be scoffed at. They might be the new kid on the block, but at this point they are being more hospitable to their new neighbors than some of us are. Let's all be friends, and come up with that loot for AoC Durham!
Posted by: muziks is fun | April 06, 2016 at 04:39 PM
everyone agrees it's embarrassing to ask for tax money yet demand $250 for a piece of the action, right?
Posted by: root | April 06, 2016 at 04:56 PM
I think the Art of Cool lineup is one of the best in the entire country. With that said, it looks like they might have bit off more than they could chew with switching Kamasi Washington to the Armory from MotorCo with the apparent additional production costs.
Posted by: hdr | April 06, 2016 at 08:12 PM
I would hope that we could support "both" festivals. Over the years, I've seen downtown Durham grow into a place of growing demand and the common buzzwords are "cool", "diverse", and "local". The simple truth is that AOC represents all of that, and has added to the very fabric of #DURM. They have collaborated with numerous local organizations and businesses such as KidzNotes, RUNAWAY, Carolina Theatre, Beyu Caffe, Duke Performances, MotorCo, Pinhook, Cocoa Cinnamon, American Tobacco, and many many more -- and not just during their festival weekend but throughout the entire year. To ignore their request at this crucial time when their event is quickly approaching (before Moogfest), and yet support MoogFest (which I think we are all excited to have in Durham) is quite sad and unfortunate. Not to mention that AOC creates a critical impact for Durham as a place where someone wants to LIVE vs VISIT (for a festival weekend); and if you add the tax revenue generated throughout the entire year from their collaborative and/or solo events, I think the numbers would be even more impressive.
My biggest compliment when bragging about Durham to visitors is that we are an authentic city. Our authenticity allows us to stand out successfully and not apologize for it. AOC has played a vital contribution in the current "coolness" that we so proudly yell #DURM. And although I may not understand the political funding side, I do hope the city can find a way to support AOC. Both AOC AND Moogfest are a POWERFUL combination for Durham's continued growth, all while staying cool, diverse, and local.
Posted by: Dorian Bolden | April 06, 2016 at 09:56 PM
As a supporter and fan of AOC from the beginning I think the investment in its future should be of primary concern for our City Council. With that said I definitely see that they are having growing pains which is to be expected and that they still need to look for ways to expand their exposure. After a very successful first year many people felt that the second year's program was more limiting and not as accessible but that doesn't seem to be the case this year with a very exciting line-up in place.
Posted by: Deborah Dobbins | April 06, 2016 at 11:51 PM
From the time it was announced that Moogfest was coming to Durham, it was in the press that a taxpayer contribution of about $150K was part of the deal. http://www.heraldsun.com/news/moogfest-seeks-k-from-city-county/article_cb382954-7775-11e5-97b6-e7486180f129.html
So I am not certain what all the angst is about now, although it seems odd that the funding is just now being acted upon. I think of Moogfest as a business conference, hence the $249 all inclusive pricing. This is economic development.
I hope AOC can also be supported as a cultural event.
Posted by: Dick Ford | April 07, 2016 at 08:41 AM
We should be careful with the forced apples to apples comparisons between the two. Both festivals are driven by a different vision and mission and while there may be some overlap in attendees, for the most part both will have different audiences. At issue here is the lack of public, private and financial support given to AOC. Attempting to discern why there is a lack of support isn't necessarily important at this point of the conversation as there is still time for the City (and County) of Durham to change course. It is perplexing that the city chose to fund Moogfest's request of $135k while delaying AOC's request for $20k. Especially so when you consider that Moogfest occurs several weeks after AOC. Why not grant AOC its $20k ask and give Moogfest $115k and delay Moogfest's additional funding until after AOC.
Bottom line--Durham wins if BOTH festivals succeed. Betting on one over the other is short-sided in IMHO. I'm beginning to wonder if Moogfest is concerned about Durham's ability to host a festival of this magnitude given how much money it has been requesting from the city. What happens if both Moogfest and AOC fall flat? Was it the $1.5 million loss that gave Asheville pause prompting Moogfest's move to Durham in the first place? Now Durham taxpayers are funding Moogfest but our dollars aren't being used to support one of our own?!
It is laughable that a homegrown, bootstrapped festival projecting to generate over $1M to the Durham economy is forced to wait for such a small amount of support from its OWN city. That doesn't encourage that "start-up" mentality that Durham is celebrated for. The message its sending to other homegrown entrepreneurs is a troubling one.
Posted by: Sam | April 07, 2016 at 09:37 AM
Former Triangle student coming back to DURM for the third year in a row to see AOCF!
Posted by: Maceo | April 07, 2016 at 09:43 AM
I had sworn off of AOC after a negative experience 2 years ago dealing with their volunteer security staff, and pour stage management at Hayti (allowing an undercard performer's set run long, cutting in to the headliners's set).
I think Cicely and team have learned their lessons about logistics, and have orchestrated a phenomenal lineup. @Astherion is correct. Anderson Paak is fantastic, and Kamasi's performance last year at MotorCo was the single best live performance I saw in 2015. Considering I see over 100 concerts annually, that's a bold statement to make.
In past AOCs I have met people that have flown across the country to attend AOC and spend money in Durham. Councilmen Schewel is right. AOC is homegrown, and is getting better year by year. Our leaders need to step up and support the AOC.
Posted by: Mohamad Goldberg | April 07, 2016 at 10:07 AM
Isn't this something that economic & workforce development should be handling? Proactively approaching festivals like AOC and helping them put competitive proposals for city funding together? Helping them put together financials, impact statements, and compelling cases so when they show up at City Council asking for an incentive it's an easy yes?
If the capacity doesn't exist within the organizations, how do EWD, DDI, etc. work as an extension?
Posted by: Natalie | April 07, 2016 at 12:09 PM
Just a note about this comment, "It would be a shame to see AOC fail because the chamber and DCVB — and the public — don't value it." I can only speak about our own organization (as the head of DCVB). We value AOC. We value Moogfest. We value Full Frame, ADF and list goes on and on to the 100 or so festivals we host in Durham annually. How one shows they "value" a festival is different from one organization to the next. Our legislation does not permit us to provide funding to ANY festival, but we work with each on an array of services that we provide depending on their needs. I wish we had more resources for all of our festivals.
Posted by: Shelly Green | April 07, 2016 at 12:48 PM
what (tf) difference does it make what category you think of it, business 'conference', economic development, or cultural event? what nonsense. Moog is billed and advertised as entertainment at a preposteros price for 95% of durham residents who are paying for it nonetheless.
Posted by: root | April 07, 2016 at 04:02 PM
root, the difference is the R.O.I. vs the cultural component. Bringing in money for the local economy is good for 100% of Durham residents and Moogfest is going to do that at a level Art of Cool's event can't. The Art of Cool festival is home grown and smaller in size. It is the largest event for the Durham based 501 (c)(3) nonprofit that organizes it. In my opinion that puts it in a separate category to the for profit Moogfest conference/festival event.
Posted by: Rick | April 07, 2016 at 04:21 PM
'bringing in money for the local economy' is a profound concept while simultaneously extracting tax money. you are trying to tell me that Asheville was just too stupid to 'invest' tax money with a positive net ROI?
Posted by: root | April 07, 2016 at 04:32 PM
Cecily is producing a great festival, and has been growing it steadily since it's founding. When I talk to her about these "comparison" issues, she always takes the high road. I don't hear Cecily talking about the unfairness of why one festival is getting more or less than hers. I worry that while some of the coverage of theses comparative situations is perhaps a fair conversation to have, it leaves me wondering if there's an unintended consequence of leaving the reader feeling like AOC is somehow damaged, or an underdog. AOC is really it's own thing, working out it's own business model, growing steadily, and healthily. I applaud Cecily for, at least publicly, staying out of these funding debates that rely on a model of scarcity -- have's and have nots pitted against one another. Someone winning and someone being left behind. I think our community is more complex than that (thankfully). I see no reason why both of these festivals should not thrive and find their own place.
If I asked Cecily whether she'd like to read an article about how she's getting beat up, or how amazing her festival is, I have no doubt which choice she would make. I know which article would result in more support from ticket buyers and sponsors.
Posted by: Scott Harmon | April 07, 2016 at 04:42 PM
Well said @Scott Harmon
Posted by: Sam | April 07, 2016 at 05:09 PM
@Scott Harmon: Cicely shared the story on her FB page, and this is what she wrote:
"Thank you Cora for speaking out on our behalf. It takes courage to speak the truth. For quite sometime I've been silent about this. I'm not a politician. But since Cora put it out there....I'm sliding this over to you my friends.
If you love what AOC is doing for the city, please come out and support this year. We need you."
She may have been publicly staying out of the debate, but during her presentation to City Council it was clear she was feeling the the AOC was not receiving a fair shake. And from following the story on FB, it's clear that 1) she appreciates someone noting the funding disparity and 2) people are rallying to the festival's cause.
It's not always the journalists' charge to write the story people want to read, but rather the one that needs to be written. I wrote this piece not to engender sympathy for AOC or animosity toward Moogfest, but to 1) report on what a City Councilwoman said in a public sphere, 2) to analyze the issues that could have led to that conclusion and 3) to spark a discussion about what Durham values in its cultural offerings and how we as a citizenry and as a city government demonstrate it.
Posted by: Lisa Sorg | April 07, 2016 at 05:22 PM
The thing that no one is saying in these comments - the sort of obvious thing - is that Art Of the Cool is anything but. It's retrograde, almost purposefully uncool, and it's for old people. Moogfest, on the other hand, is cool. It's forward thinking. It's for young people. I'm 31, live and work downtown, and I don't know single person that's ever been to Art of the Uncool. But I know more than a dozen people who can't wait for Moogfest.
It's all a matter of where Durham wants to put its serious money. It can put it into a festival (AOC) that could barely get written up in the Indy because none of the music writers there gives a damn about the standard-issue and kitschy music played at the festival - that is until, Durham being Durham, the race card got played, and now those critics are stuck feigning enthusiasm - or into a festival (Moogfest) that gets national press and attention, and is lovingly referenced in Pitchfork. If Durham wants to make its mark regionally and nationally, it's pretty damn obvious what it needs to do with its money, but, Durham being Durham, it'll waffle or or make the wrong decision.
I don't doubt that there might be more local enthusiasm from ordinary blokes for AOC than for Moogfest, just like I don't doubt that more people locally are listening to commercial oldies radio than WCPE or WXDU or WXYC. But outside the area, the amount of enthusiasm generated by each of these festivals could not be more lopsided. The people doling out the cash in City Hall need to be aware of this fact, but I doubt they are.
Posted by: Paolo Shirazi | April 07, 2016 at 07:19 PM
As someone who flew to Durham from NY State to attend the AOC festival two years in a row -- staying at the downtown Durham Marriott -- I'm more than a little puzzled as to why the city won't ante up the $20,000 in a timely manner to allow the AOC festival planners to incorporate these funds into their budget. My wife and I went to numerous restaurants and attended AOC events at a number of venues -- doesn't that define economic impact? This thread has inspired me to go to the AOC website and make a sizable donation. Let's hope AOC doesn't go host-city shopping like the (deficit-spending) Moogfest does. Durham, appreciate what you have. Seriously.
Posted by: David | April 07, 2016 at 08:18 PM
Durham talks about being local...talks about culture...talks about the arts...talks about diversity...until it comes time to put our money where our mouth is!
AOC has been stretched limited dollars for several years to balance a great lineup of non-mainstream Jazz & R&B artists while keeping the ticket prices reasonable. Cicely is doing what she is supposed to do from an operator and political perspective. The city should support this local entrepreneur/ festival just like they support CenterFest...like they supported The Taste of Durham...like they are supporting Moogfest. It should not even be an equity issue.
This is not an organization that just came out of nowhere. AOC promotes events & live shows year round that help keep Durham cool. And to young Millennial above...Jazz was the original cool and Ninth Wonder (who somebody referenced as the "establishment" LOL) is pretty cool too. It is cool that Al Strong and his musical buddies would show up at bars and have random jam sessions. THAT'S COOL AS ........ to me!
Honestly Cicely should have asked for more money and probably needs more money. Especially since that would help with attracting other donors (law of attractions) and promoting beyond the largely grassroots and social (Twitter/ Facebook) campaigns.
But you know what Cicely like many of us is always going to have her head down and working hard to put together a quality product regardless of the level of support that she gets from Durham. I just hope that she doesn't move to other pastures to grow her dream like many of us do...
Posted by: Khalid Hawthorne | April 07, 2016 at 09:53 PM
tone deaf is the idea that $250 tickets, conferring exclusivity, need tax subsidy. why not just ask $500 (or $1000) and leave out the request for tax money?
Posted by: root | April 08, 2016 at 09:22 AM
root, I wouldn't call Asheville stupid at all. They decided they didn't need Moogfest to bring in tourist money. That is one of the biggest part of their local economy, the tech emphasis makes it a bad fit for the city not known for tech, and the spending to continue probably wasn't worth it for the commissioners who voted against it. They decided to focus using their economic incentives package for bringing in new business as opposed to subsidizing the event to get the week long spike in economic activity.
Also folks in Asheville have admitted that losing the festival is THEIR loss, a $14 million loss, not vice versa: http://www.bizjournals.com/triangle/blog/techflash/2015/07/moogfest-its-ashevilles-loss-says-buncombe.html
Here is another Asheville perspective: http://www.citizen-times.com/story/opinion/contributors/2015/08/11/moogfest-taxpayer-money-learned/31451737/
I do agree with you that $250 tickets as the only option, unless you are a student or brave enough to buy before the line up is even announced, is ridiculous. But I also question how much leverage the city or county even have at this point. Much like Moogfest gave Asheville the middle finger on the way out by pointing out the lack of tech, it would damage the Durham brand if Moogfest left here saying the city couldn't accommodate them. The festival organizers also posted an anti-HB 2 status and could use that against us as well. If we want the millions of dollars they generate or at least want to keep the door open to hosting another event of this scale then our public officials have to play a balancing act.
Posted by: Rick | April 08, 2016 at 10:11 AM
AOC is more than a festival, it's a social and cultural movement. Dr. Mitchell and AOC have created an organic movement that provides diversity to downtown Durham through music, lectures and other social events. What began as local jazz performances has now become a nationally known festival. Is Durham going to allow another suitor, Raleigh perhaps, to come in an offer better and easier funding? Raleigh does have better music venues. Or will AOC go the way of Black Wall Street? In my opinion, downtown Durham greatly benefits from the diversity AOC brings (year round). The city of Durham will get a definite return on its investment, just look at the numbers.
Posted by: adrian lindsay | April 08, 2016 at 10:12 AM
As I've said before, there are two Durhams. Festivals show that very clearly by the demographic make-up of their attendees. We all know which Durham gets most of the funding, even if some of us don't want to admit it.
To paraphrase that eminent philosopher Captain Louis Renault:
I'm shocked, shocked to find that racial inequity is going on here.
@Rick Do you really think that Moogfest is good for 100% of Durham's residents? Every single one of them?
Posted by: Jeff Bakalchuck | April 08, 2016 at 02:23 PM
Jeff I absolutely do think millions of dollars in local economic activity generated, out of towners coming in to a place that is by no means a tourist or event destination city, and furthering Durham's reputation to the world benefits everyone here. I share some concerns about accessibly issues regarding price point as well as the typical pitfalls relating to traffic, etc from hosting a huge event.
When talking about inequity, it's unfair to pigeonhole it to race. We are comparing a 3 night festival featuring 23 acts with a free day time component put on by a Durham based jazz education nonprofit with a 5 day/night conference + festival featuring over 100 acts some staying multiple days/nights with a free programming component too put on by a for profit company associated with a synthesizer brand that is not based here. This isn't apples-to-apples.
Posted by: Rick | April 08, 2016 at 02:59 PM
I want to make sure everyone got a laugh from Peolo Sharazi's "It's forward thinking. It's for young people" as the lineup of artists over the years includes, admittedly legendary, but laughably dated Eno, Kraftwerk, Mrs. Anderson, and the Orb, but I guess this is easily confused as 'young' people tend to think of EDM as a recent phenomenon.
Posted by: root | April 08, 2016 at 04:15 PM