Asheville’s city-run festival, Bele Chere, wrapped up on Sunday. It’s the last Bele Chere as we know it, with city officials axing its nearly half-million dollars in funding for next year and slashing staffers. But rumors that a new entity will take the reins of the event persist. Over the weekend, here’s what was going around:
-The Biltmore Estate was buying the Bele Chere naming rights.
-The city of Raleigh was buying the Bele Chere naming rights.
-New Belgium should buy the Bele Chere naming rights.
Two key city officials on Friday told me the city has: a) not sold the rights to any entity and b) is not currently in any negotiations with a group or organization about the sale of the Bele Chere naming rights. Those officials were Sandra Travis, who oversees city festivals, and her boss, Roderick Simmons, the head of Asheville’s parks and recreation department.
Both officials noted how difficult it is to stage a large, free outdoor festival. Just look at Bele Chere’s history – it started out as a privately run event with sponsorships, but the city eventually took it over to grow it and keep it going. Look, also, at the new last week that LAAFF was cancelled for this year and looking at a 2014 return. The issue – money.
Simmons also noted that any sale of the Bele Chere name would be done in public. It is public property, and as such, it’s sale would have to be approved by Asheville City Council.
If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it’s yours. If it does not come back, it was never meant to be.