May 22, 2024
Annapolis, US 81 F

Questions surround Annapolis Rising benefit concert

UPDATE: We received the following from Ari Bevacqua who is the Director of Communications for the New York Times. “Elisabeth Bumiller is not being paid for her participation and she is handling her own travel arrangements.”

UPDATE: Literally as soon as we published, Susan O’Brien from the City of Annapolis answered some of the questions:

No money was paid for a deposit for Good Charlotte for September and none of the musicians are being paid for the benefit, local or national. There are costs associated with stage, AV, gas money, etc…. and we will have a final tally of expenses soon, but not yet. All expenses and donations will be tallied. We will probably have at least $50,000 in sponsorship donations. All donors and amounts will be known soon.
Annapolis Arts District are applicants on the application with the City of Annapolis and Annapolis Rising (an LLC).
If the City Council denies the request for the City to be a sponsor during the meeting in September, the funds raised and deposited in the Annapolis Arts District’s 501 C3 account will be used to pay expenses associated with the event and subtracted from tally being donated to the family fund for the Cap Gaz.

About the only question the City can answer about the Annapolis Rising benefit concert is that it is happening this Saturday and they have a line up of performers and speakers.

The City has said they expect 3,000 attendees and have capped the ticket sales at 3,000. However, we learned that less than 1,000 have been sold. Certainly the weather is playing a part in purchasing decisions.

The City has said that the cost of the festival will be $32,000 which is primarily overtime for police, fire, and EMS ($26,000) and a reimbursement for the Department of General Services. The Mayor asked the council to waive the costs in Monday’s meeting, but the council refused and instead will revisit the request in September when they reconvene. Spokesperson Susan O’Brien said that if the council does not approve the waiver of costs, the burden would fall onto the sponsors of the benefit concert.

With only $6,000 left in expenses, this did not make sense. We have contacted the City with specific questions surrounding this benefit and at the time of publication, they have not responded to our email inquiry.

  1. The City had already planned an Annapolis Rising concert for September 22nd with Good Charlotte performing. Presumably a deposit was made. If so, how much? Was it retained? Or returned? For an upcoming show in Philadelphia, Good Charlotte was contracted for $75,000 and typical deposits run in the 20% to 50% range.
  2. Good Charlotte is reportedly playing the festival for free. What about the other headlining talent-Jordan Klepper, Stephanie Ruhle, Marty Baron, Less Than Jake, Elisabeth Bumiller? If their fees are waived, what other costs are associated with them–travel, lodging, riders?
  3. $6,000 seems very low to cover staging, lighting, sound, fencing, portable toilets, and other hard costs. What are these costs?
  4. If the Council does not agree to waive the costs associated with the concert, Susan O’Brien has said that the sponsors would be responsible for that additional cost. Who are the sponsors? Are they agreeable to assume an additional $32,000 in costs? What is the City charging for sponsorship? Were there levels?

There are other questions that come to mind as well. The City is seeking volunteers with experience in staging, sound, and lighting. While we do have a robust music scene in Annapolis, staging, sound, and lighting is vastly different for an outdoor stage at a festival than in the back room of 49 West. Are volunteers capable of managing this aspect? If not, what is the cost from the rental company.

This festival will be taking place on Calvert Street between West and Northwest Streets. This will block off the main entrance to the Gott’s Court Garage. Access will only be from Northwest Street which is one way. What are the cost ramifications? Will there be detours or signage erected to guide motorists?

We were initially told that the ticket sales would essentially equate to the contribution to the Capital Gazette Families’ Fund. What happens if ticket sales are not as expected and expenses still remain? Will the ticket sales still be directed to the Fund?

The event is marketed as a “Benefit for the Free Press and 1st Responders.” What benefit will the 1st responders be given as a result of this concert?

Will this morph into an anti-Trump rally or a anti-gun rally? If so, is that an appropriate event for the City to sponsor? To pay for? One of the headliners is Jordan Klepper who hosted a show in Comedy Central. From the show’s wikipedia page:
The Opposition with Jordan Klepper is an American late-night talk and news satire program that aired on Comedy Central from September 25, 2017 to June 28, 2018. The show was hosted by comedian Jordan Klepper, a former correspondent on The Daily Show, and satirizes right-wing politics.
Other speakers are from the Washington Post, The New York Times, and MSNBC which, while main stream, have leaned decidedly more left since the last election.
The concept for the concert is solid. We all need to help out our Capital-Gazette friends as they try to move on in a very different world than the one that existed on June 27th. But many have suggested that this is too soon. Others have suggested that it is being too rushed. And many are simply opposed because it has the potential to become a political rally and not a benefit concert as intended.
If we get an answer from the City on any of our questions, we will update this post.  If you are planning on attending, tickets are available at Rams Head On Stage who has agreed to handle the ticketing at no cost to the City. The cost is $25 in advance and $30 at the gate.
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