Notes on Music in the Plaza
If it is to happen again, there are some aspects of the event that must be better handled.
Publicity: The event was publicized with colorful cards featuring the mayor's re-election image, a flyer on the city web site, this web site and other places. The information was not consistent. The movie time was listed as dusk, 9 p.m., 9:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. The car show was listed as 9 p.m., 5 to 9 p.m. or 5 to 11 p.m.
The location was listed as the plaza in front of the Park-Madison office building. But on Aug. 17, the council granted permission to close off an adjacent street, "East 2nd Street between Park and Madison Avenue" from 5 to 11 p.m. for the car show and movie. This location is, of course, on West Second Street.
The times of the two concerts were left off an initial printing of the cards, which then had to be reprinted with the times, noon to 2 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m.
The movie, "The Fast and the Furious," is rated PG-13 and was apparently not reviewed for content until bloggers raised concerns. An edited version will now be shown.
Logistics: One sticking point in council discussions of the event was the potential cost of setting it up, public safety coverage, dismantling the stage and seating and post-event cleanup. Given that it now spans 11 hours in two locations, these costs should be documented and be part of any discussion of future Music in the Plaza events. Also, while the plaza offers a clean line-of-sight for police coverage, the addition of the closed-off block to the south means extra coverage will be necessary. And where to park? Many people will come on foot, but for those who need to park, how about indicating the location of nearby lots? And since most are mainly permit spaces, how about waiving fines for the duration of the event?
Coordination: This event falls on the second day and evening of the final Downtown Summer Sidewalk Sale. Part of the reason offered for Music in the Plaza is to draw shoppers downtown, but there is no cross-publicity between the two events. Friday may serve as a test case on whether the Music in the Plaza event enhances downtown shopping or not.
All in all, the preparation for this event appears faulty. Dave Wynn is quoted as saying no taxpayer dollars are involved in the event. If so, then the sponsors have been ill-served by the confusing publicity.
The governing body attempted to get a bottom line on this year's event before giving approvals, but not all relevant details were offered up front. Obviously, city officials were determined to have the event no matter what. If it is to become a tradition, it must be better conceived and executed next year, with full disclosure of all aspects before the City Council is asked to grant permission.