Over the past few years, Asheville’s festival scene has been shaken up, with old standbys ending and a few new fests popping up. The stopped backing its main summer festival, Bele Chere, after a 30-year run in downtown two years ago. Another major music festival, Moogfest, decided to move to Durham this year after receiving lukewarm city support.
The city continues to support a number of great events, mostly by providing in-kind services such as trash pick-up and police services, as it has pulled back from directly spending taxpayer dollars on events. The Asheville Downtown Association has become a major city festival producer, throwing parties such as the downtown Oktoberfest and Downtown After Five event, to name a couple. Meanwhile, other events such as RiverMusic have popped up.
Here are a few relevant sections from the city’s request for proposals:
The City of Asheville (City) is seeking proposals from qualified organizations who wish to partner with the City to facilitate the production of special events and festivals to occur in calendar years 2017‐2019.
The City has long valued partnerships with local organizations to produce festivals and special events that further economic and community development. In 2014 the Asheville City Council approved 3‐year agreements (2014‐2016) to provide public support in the form of in‐kind services to three organizations for the production of special events such as Downtown After 5, Shindig on the Green, the Goombay Festival, the Asheville Holiday Parade, and many more. The
City’s strategic event partnerships are performance‐focused agreements implemented as economic development tools that leverage city resources to promote an environment for investment, entrepreneurship, and advancing Asheville’s arts/creative economy. The combined annual maximum value of the City’s current partnership commitments is $125,000. Asheville City Council will determine budget allocations to support strategic event partnership agreements through calendar years 2017‐2019. The budget for these agreements will be based on available resources and matched with organizations that present proposals identifying the strongest capacity to achieve positive impact on future community and economic development goals through special event programming.
Special events and festivals held in Asheville’s public spaces have grown in frequency by 20% over the past five years. Permitting for food carts, food trucks, and other temporary vending has increased by 40% over the same period. The demand on public and private resources to support the increase in activity is driven by tourism, population growth, and a swell of entrepreneurs and small businesses in search of opportunities and venues to showcase local products and services, conduct performances, and carryout charitable fundraising activities.
COMMUNITY CHALLENGES & OPPORTUNITIES
While Asheville is experiencing development and high‐growth as a destination for tourism, emphasis must be placed on other target industries that can attract and retain investment. Special events and festivals have the ability to help define Asheville as a place where creativity and innovation are valued and nurtured through programming components which encourage creative problem‐solving, networking and cross‐sector collaboration.
It is the intent of the City of Asheville to leverage its resources through partnerships with organizations that will produce special events and festivals designed to capitalize on the community’s emerging opportunities and address its current challenges. The City has identified the following goals for its strategic event partnerships in years 2017‐2019:
1. Stimulate local commerce and motivate entrepreneurship
2. Support Asheville as a culturally diverse city, bringing festivals and public art that
promote a sense of community within Asheville
3. Advance neighborhood identities, strengthening and inspiring underserved populations