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Friday, March 21, 2008

The Politics Of Music

Here is an interesting article forwarded to me from a friend of the Central Iowa Blues Society. You always here the good talk from city big wigs about the importance of bringing people into town, and having them spend money. The Central Iowa Blues Society has done this for years for the city, but according to this article from Cityview, there seems to be some strange things going on, which may not be helpful to our good friends in Des Moines.

Civic Skinny

While John and Mary Pappajohn may have intended to beautify the Western Gateway Park when they announced in January that they were donating 16 pieces of world-class sculptures valued at $30 million to create a sculpture garden in the downtown park, Skinny hears their philanthropic ways have had some unintended consequences on the local music scene. For starters, the city’s decision to begin construction of the sculpture garden the week after the Greater Des Moines Music Coalition hosts its debut 80/35 music festival the weekend of July 4 has raised eyebrows among insiders in the local music scene who smell nepotism. The non-profit DMMC’s festival not only has the support of the city’s advisory music commission — which convinced the city council to give the DMMC $50,000 for the fest — but it also has the financial backing of several downtown players like BRAVO and the Iowa Arts Council in the form of tens of thousands of dollars in additional grants, and Skinny hears that Park and Recreation officials don’t want to jeopardize the city’s investment in the event by starting construction beforehand. That’s good news if you’re part of the 80/35 event, but bad news if you’re a member of the Central Iowa Blues Society, which had proof that it had reserved the park for its second annual Gateway Blues Festival to be held Labor Day weekend, but was told by one Park and Recreation official — just days before the Pappajohn announcement — that the reservation “had been lost.” The loss of the park and the reservation has forced CIBS to scramble to find another site, Skinny hears, and has put not only the event, but also CIBS — which has helped generate interest and money in downtown for years by hosting festivals there — in financial jeopardy because the group’s annual festival is one of its biggest fundraisers. “We were the first group to make an investment in the park for live music, and now we have to start again,” said a CIBS official. Skinny suspects the group will rally to host an even bigger event this Labor Day, but don’t look for it to be held downtown. Meanwhile, Skinny wonders how much taxpayer money will be wasted to redesign the park, which was originally fitted with power sources so it could host concerts.
Sounds like business as usual for Des Moines. Short term thinking, PO the people who have worked hard for years, or worse take them for granted, and they move away. It sometimes amazes me how anything gets done around here! (hey if its helps any, things work the same way up here too:-)

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