Thursday, February 13, 2014

Is the Hermosa Summer Concert Series going away?

I'm not sure yet.

This year will be the 5th year that Saint Rocke has produced the Hermosa Beach Summer Concert Series. In our partnership tenure with the City of Hermosa, we've been very proud and passionate about our role as the Executive Producer: give the Community 4 concerts with world class stage, sound, and artistry while balancing the delicate needs of our small beach town community.  Not too many attendees, but book bands that we all love.  Not too many sponsors, but let local businesses thrive on the beach.  Not too many rules, but make sure that everyone is safe, friendly, and courteous.  I personally have been at every single concert since we started to produce them -- and I can tell as a born and bred South Bay resident, that it is one of the most breathtaking things I've ever been a part of...8,000 music loving family, friends, grandparents, kids, associates, and young professionals all enjoying a sunset on Sunday on our beautiful beach listening to great live music. Not one issue, arrest, or problem in 4 years.  And the best part? FREE. Free for the concert goers, and important to note: FREE for the City. We can all be proud of that.

It's True: there are other cities in California that have concert series. But are there other cities that have the level of production & artistry that we have without paying a single cent to the event producer?  I believe not. The reason for this lies in the history of these concerts. They historically were run by the City at an expense ranging between $30,000-70,000 annually. Additionally, the City devoted time & resources to the planning, booking, and execution of these concerts.  The tipping point was in 2008 though, when the City was not only pressed to slash their budget (why does music always go first?), but one of their City-planned events went awry, as the Rebelution concert (which has since reached epic folklore proportions) pushed the boundaries of acceptable community event practice.  At this point, the City discussed cancelling the Concert Series in totality.  Classic case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

As the premiere music venue in the South Bay, Saint Rocke was contacted by the City manager at the time, and I was asked how we might be able to help, and if we were willing to do so.  Having been a supporter and attendee, I wanted the concerts to continue, and so offered our assistance.  But how? Producing the concerts is in our baileywick; Saint Rocke is known for outside production of events and I believed we could pull off better concerts than any company in the South Bay.  But for free? Who would help subsidize the cost? I believed that there were local businesses that thought these concerts were important as well, and that if I created a value proposition for them to reach local customers, they would want to be a partner in the series.  So, and this is important, I took on 100% of the financial risk in order to produce these concerts and continue them. That meant, that if I failed to garner support, Saint Rocke was on the hook to pay for the entire production.  Thankfully, our local businesses like LA Car Guy, Skechers, Dealer.com, Fresh Brothers, The Hermosa Chamber of Commerce, and others, saw the opportunity and we succeeded.  And I believe the last 4 years has been an epic ride of music for the Community.  To date, Saint Rocke & the Sponsors have spent over $225,000 on producing these concerts for free to the public.

As great as this is, it isn't a long term viable solution to ensuring the existence of these concerts over the next 5-10 years.  Saint Rocke is a business, and for us to continue producing these, it has to make economic sense from a long term perspective.  So this year, instead of asking the City to pay us a fee, the new City Manager, Tom Bakaly, and I sat down and spent a considerable amount of time and energy creating a new contract between the City and Saint Rocke which would enable us to commit to producing these concerts through 2018 (for the full report: City Report).  In summary, we asked to produce an additional 2 events in OFF PEAK times (not the summer) that would give the Community more great music, drive hotel, retail, and restaurant business to the city outside of the summer months, and give our Community 2 more events similar to the beach concerts that our sleepy beachtown could be proud of.  Additionally, this contract would enable us to help produce and pay for the New Years Big Band event downtown annually, and continue the level of quality we have created at the Summer Concerts.

I excitedly met with the City Council on Tuesday to approve the contract, but was instead met with some resistance.  Three members of the Council are new, and although I believe they all truly have the best interest of Hermosa in mind, I also believe they do not have the advantage of understanding how important music and these concerts are to all of us in the Community -- and hence the Council did not place any significant value (both financially and culturally) on our role in the Summer concerts in regards to their view of the proposed contract.  To be clear: this is not a debate on bars, operating hours, booze, oil, Coachella in Hermosa, or carbon footprints; we have no desire to create a monstrous event the Community wouldn't love. This is about music, and whether we want it or not in our Community.  I know all of you are busy with your own lives, your jobs, your work, your daily distractions, but if on those Sundays in the summer you come out with your friends and family, sit in your beach chair, throw your shades on, and smile when the headliner comes on, then I'd ask you to help us to be able to continue to do that for you....for FREE. The beach is free, without fences, and will always be -- but it doesn't have to be a beach without music. How can you help if you'd like to?

Read up, be educated on the contract. Ask me ANY questions you want. (asanfy@live.com)

Write your City Council.  Tell them if you support us and that you see the VALUE in Saint Rocke's participation.

Add positivity to the conversation.  Don't be a "what-if" risk assessor. We have enough of these in Hermosa Beach.  If you have concerns, let's discuss and plan around them!

Don't attack our Council Members.  They are volunteers, full of integrity, and they care!  I'm simply asking for you to let them know that Music is important to us. Culture is important.

It's our beach town. Nobody else's.  And our voice is the strongest.  Saint Rocke is proud to be the Executive Producer of these concerts, and will continue doing so only so long as the Community wants us to. Long live music in Hermosa Beach.

Ever Forward,
Allen Sanford
Managing Partner, Saint Rocke

City Council Emails:

2 comments:

Raymond Dussault said...

Thank you so much for all of this information! Great blog! And thank you for the beach concerts - it's one of the best events of it's kind I've ever seen and at no cost to the city. Wow. Great job.

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