Cities Embracing Music Festivals

The Austin City Limits music festival, held at the city's major public park, has inspired other cities to invite festivals to their parks, despite the inherent challenges.
September 26, 2008, 6am PDT | Larry Schooler
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"What originally differentiated the Austin event was that it staged the multiband, multistage weekend format at a jewel of a city park. C3 has brought that model to Chicago's Grant Park, selling out Lollapalooza - 225,000 tickets over three days - in August.

The successes of ACL Fest and Lollapalooza - each earmark part of the proceeds to the respective parks departments overseeing the events - inspired the City of San Francisco in August to allow the Outside Lands Festival, a concert by another promoter, to operate after dark at Golden Gate Park for the first time. C3 Presents pays the Austin Parks Department more than $200,000 a year and has pledged an additional $2.5 million for park improvements over the next seven to 10 years. C3 pays the Chicago's Parklands Foundation $1 million a year for the use of Grant Park for Lollapalooza.

While cash-strapped city parks departments have warmed to the festival format, so have the artists. Because CD sales have declined in recent years, acts have to hit the road to make money. Festivals can also provide great exposure. At a panel at the Americana Music Association conference in Nashville last week focusing on the flurry of festivals, C3 partner Charlie Walker said "every band playing ACL this year will sell more tickets the next time they come through town."

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Published on Thursday, September 25, 2008 in Austin American-Statesman
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