A New Bumbershoot For 2015

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Bumbershoot, touted as the nation’s largest urban arts festival, has for some time been unable to retire its long-running debt to the City of Seattle. In an attempt to save itself, its parent company, One Reel, has announced it will partner with Showbox Presents/AEG Live, promoters of music at the Showbox, KeyArena and other venues around the country. Showbox Presents/AEG Live will book music acts for Bumbershoot while taking on the financial risks.

bumbershootOne Reel’s Jon Stone will step down as executive director , but will remain with One Reel, while former One Reel director Heather Smith will become interim executive director.

AEG Live’s concerts grossed $913,763,358 in 2014, according to Billboard magazine.

The City has agreed not to collect its share of 2015 ticket revenues it usually receives from the festival.

One Reel has experienced a significant reduction in grants, donations and receipts received from events, dropping from about $6.9 million in 2008 to $4.9 million in 2012, ending 2012 with a negative fund balance of $1.35 million.

Though One Reel managed to pay off some of its 2012 debt and ended 2013 with none, it presently owes the city about $900,000. That includes upwards of $700,000 for leasing and staffing Seattle Center during festivals in 2012 and 2014 and about $200,000 for police and other services. The nonprofit is also arears on compensating dozens of theatrical stage workers for 2014’s Labor Day weekend festival.

One Reel’s problems may be caused by low attendance when it rains, inadequate venues, and rising ticket prices.

KeyArena became unavailable to Bumbershoot when the Seattle Storm’s new lease granted them priority. Along with Bumberhoot’s forced move to Memorial Stadium for its main stage, where the largest and most lucrative acts perform, came extra expenses cutting into revenues. And, dwindling space throughout Seattle Center has attracted fewer Bumbershoot sponsors, further reducing revenues.

How One Reel’s partnership with Showbox Presents/AEG Live might impact KeyArena’s availability and space issues at Seattle Center remain to be seen.

I’m relieved to learn Bumbershoot has a plan in place allowing it to continue at Seattle Center. And, I look forward to having some of the questions this plan raises answered when Seattle Center officials brief the Council on this new partnership.

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