Summer Rocks Music Festival Bill Passed By Aldermanic Committee

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Summer Rocks Music Festival Bill Passed By Aldermanic Committee
Allison Babka

* ICM must use reasonable and obvious efforts to produce festivals with at least 20% local talent, contractors and subcontractors when commercially feasible. While "talent" may mean performers, it also includes local food and beverage providers, merchandise vendors and more. Randy Freedman, senior director of business and legal affairs at ICM, also says his agency will work with local restaurants, bars and music venues to produce and promote post-festival entertainment, particularly for visitors.

* There was concern about a Stanley Cup playoff/championship run rubbing against the first yearly Summer Rocks concert, which is proposed for Memorial Day weekend 2015 (the other being Labor Day weekend). There now is language in the contract that says festival organizers will work with the St. Louis Blues in that case. In addition, ICM will work with the Peabody Opera House on logistics, should a Peabody event be scheduled for the same day as a Summer Rocks event (the Peabody and Summer Rocks area share Market Street as a border).

* The non-compete radius has been increased from 300 miles to 350 miles. This prevents nearby cities from working with ICM to stage festivals similar to Summer Rocks, thus increasing St. Louis' visibility, desirability and exclusivity as a music-driven destination.

* The Summer Rocks festivals must meet certain standards in its first ten years of the contract -- particularly in years five through nine -- to activate the festival's renewal for the second ten years. For example, in years five through nine, the festivals must meet or exceed an average of 30,000 tickets per festival, spend an average of $250,000 per event on advertising and ensure that an average of at least $600,000 goes to St. Louis for various taxes, reservation fees and business licenses.

* The proposal includes stronger language to ensure that minority investors and contributors will be pursued when possible. However, ICM will not be penalized if minority businesses and individuals choose not to participate. Alderwoman Tyus emphasized that all minorities should be at the table. "I want to see people included -- not just black people, but women, Hispanics, Bosnians and everybody," Tyus said.

Despite the amended contract, there still is concern among local musicians that major festivals produced by Los Angeles-based ICM Partners won't fully acknowledge or incorporate St Louis' blues history or the city's talent onstage or behind the scenes.

"Will this bill for twenty years of festival rights for a company with no connection to our musical heritage enhance our future of blues tourism?" asked David Beardsley, co-founder of downtown's National Blues Museum that's under construction.

Vintage Vinyl co-founder Tom "Papa" Ray concurred. "There's an old saying that if you're going to dig a ditch, you dig two," Ray said. "And if you're willing to sign off on this and give it to an out-of-town entity, you're putting this city's culture and heritage in that other hole." [Edited to add: After many citizens spoke out on the issue, ICM's Freedman said that his group will look into incorporating blues, soul or other genres that resonate with St. Louisans while still maintaining national appeal.]

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