Wade on Birmingham

Archive for June, 2009

Win prizes from Birmingham sponsors on Twitter

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

We’re doing something a little different but a lot of fun over on my personal site WadeKwon.com.

If you’re on Twitter, you can follow me at @WadeOnTweets. Then you can enter my crazy 1,000 follower prize blowout.

You can win prizes from these great Birmingham-area sponsors:

  • Birmingham Business Journal
  • Birmingham magazine
  • Birmingham Museum of Art
  • The J. Clyde
  • McWane Science Center
  • Mellow Mushroom

All you have to do to enter is retweet the contest. For full details and rules …

Visit the contest page.

Good luck!

modesty above all

Monday, June 29th, 2009

A success here and
there should make you more humble,
not extremely vain.

• • •

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stuck siblings

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Under the skin, we
are all red. And bloody. Wait,
and full of organs.

• • •

Read more haiku.

the pipe fitter and the cat collector

Monday, June 29th, 2009

May you be fused … in
fiery passion and tem-
pered in strength and love.

• • •

Read more haiku.

queen for a saturday

Monday, June 29th, 2009

If you had one whole
day, what would you do? Spend it
laughing and loving.

• • •

Read more haiku.

hearth and home

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Is it weird to bond
with significant others’
folks over “Rock Band”?

• • •

Read more haiku.

BREAKING: City Stages festival ends its run in debt

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Last weekend’s disappointing ticket sales leave event $1 million plus in red

City Stages logo 2009The Birmingham News reported via e-mail and Twitter that “Music festival organizers say City Stages will not return.”

And according to the News’ site:

The Birmingham Cultural and Heritage Foundation, the nonprofit organization behind City Stages, is “irretrievably insolvent,” and intends to go out of business, according to a statement released today by festival organizers.

City Stages can’t pay its expenses from this year’s festival, because revenue was “drastically below expected levels,” the statement says. Organizers pointed to the economic crunch, hot weather and low attendance, among other factors.

The downtown summer music festival, started in 1989, featured a wide variety of musical acts and quickly became Alabama’s largest music event. In recent years, the festival has been plagued by recurring debt, asking for and receiving $250,000 last week from the City of Birmingham. Last weekend marked an all-time low in day passes sold in the festival’s 21-year history.

Updated June 26: The final debt tally? More than $1 million, leaving vendors high and dry.

Also:

Could the festival have been saved?
What are your favorite City Stages memories?
Should festival president George McMillan have stepped aside sooner?
How will this impact Birmingham culturally and financially?
Sound off in the comments.

• • •

City Stages officials released this statement [original PDF]:

City Stages Statement of Intent to Go Out of Business

For 21 years, the Birmingham Cultural and Heritage Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit organization, has been producing the annual City Stages Music Festival, which has consistently drawn hundreds of thousands of attendees from all backgrounds and cultures to downtown Birmingham to enjoy three days of live entertainment from national and local artists, a children’s festival, arts and crafts, and a festive atmosphere, all in a family friendly event

The Foundation has given back to the City of Birmingham and the state with an economic impact in the tens of millions of dollars and has provided scholarships, music camps, and other valuable benefits to the City and the region. Most of all, City Stages changed the landscape of downtown Birmingham’s Linn Park and the surrounding area for one weekend during the year, in a way that helped to unite the community. We are proud of our heritage and the long-term success of the festival and what the Foundation has been able to accomplish over the last two decades.

However, due to the recent economic downturn, weather challenges, low attendance, low ticket sales, and other factors, revenue from this year’s Festival was drastically below expected levels and insufficient to pay the expenses of the Festival. Coupled with the substantial debt the Foundation has carried from previous years, the inability to meet the expenses of this year’s event cannot be overcome. Therefore, we regret to inform the community, our loyal sponsors and vendors, and the many volunteers who have lent their time, talent and effort to this endeavor that it is no longer viable to continue this Festival.

The Foundation is now irretrievably insolvent. With great sadness, pursuant to a resolution adopted by its Board of Directors, the Foundation is in the process of officially going out of business and legally terminating its existence. City Stages has come to an end.

We would like to thank all of the artists, corporate sponsors, vendors, festival attendees, the City of Birmingham, Jefferson County, State of Alabama, local small businesses, board members, community organizations and all of the other many volunteers and partners who have worked with City Stages over the past 21 years. The Foundation would also like to express its regret that the drastic reduction in revenue from this year’s event has made it impossible for the Foundation to satisfy its debts.

It appears vendors such as Bottletree Cafe, which provided catering and shut down its restaurant/bar for five days, will not be fully reimbursed.

Rebecca Davis, promoter for the club, mentioned via Twitter:

PLEASE come out and support Bottletree!! We won’t be getting paid what we were owed for the catering and hospitality we did for City Stages.”

(Hat tip: Bham.fm.)

More from Bottletree Cafe on its blog:

• • •

A few more updates:

  • ABC 33/40: “Some vendors say they were paid but their checks bounced. Others, like Bottletree, only got half of their money and don’t know how they are going to pay their staff.”
  • The Terminal: Scott Schablow’s musical tribute to City Stages’ passing
  • Black and White (published before festival’s termination): McMillan “makes perhaps his boldest and most repugnant claim, i.e. that his efforts with the festival were done ‘for this city.’ “
  • Black and White (published before festival’s termination): “With all of the financial problems this event has suffered over the past nine years, somewhere, somebody should have put a stop to the idea that City Stages had to compete with every other festival in the region.”

• • •

Complete City Stages coverage.

Heads up: Richard Scrushy ordered to pay HealthSouth $2.87 billion

Friday, June 19th, 2009

Richard Scrushy, HealthSouth founderThe last, last shoe has dropped. HealthSouth founder Richard Scrushy must pay $2.87 billion as a result of a civil suit filed in 2002. Circuit Judge Allwin Horn ruled Thursday in the bench trial, writing, “Scrushy knew about the fraud and was an active participant in the fraud and consciously and willfully breached his fiduciary duties as CEO. Scrushy was the CEO of the fraud.”

Scrushy, who founded the physical rehabilitation company in 1984, was convicted in 2006 for bribery, conspiracy and mail fraud. He’s serving a 7-year sentence in a Texas federal prison.

Shareholders are likely to see very little of the fine, after the lawyers receive their cut.

Scrushy has the option to appeal the decision to the Alabama Supreme Court.
Birmingham News: HealthSouth founder Richard Scrushy ordered to pay company $2.87 billion

instant community

Friday, June 19th, 2009

Hard to find strangers
among impromptu group of
jovial misfits.

• • •

Read more haiku.

City Stages 2009: Less money, mo problems

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

City Stages logo 2009City Stages is almost ready to go, except for one small problem. It’s short by $250,000.

Festival organizers asked the City of Birmingham to make up the shortfall on Tuesday, which the City Council approved. This comes on top of $300,000 in cash and services already given by the city for this year’s three-day downtown annual music festival.

City Stages has said via Twitter that “Each dollar invested @citystages means 10 to 20 dollars for the city.” Its site makes a similar claim: “City Stages contributes between $10 and $20 million to the area economy each year.” It adds, “City Stages provides over $1 million in direct tax revenue paid by the festival to date.”

Yet, despite repeated attempts to obtain documentation for these claims, the festival public relations representative sent only reports made in 1999, 2000 and 2001 [reports in PDF]. It is unclear who prepared the reports at the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce or Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau, or how the methodology was determined.

Those figures from up to 10 years ago represent a period with high attendance levels and lower ticket prices. The assumptions — rather than actual figures — include number of attendees and estimated daily expenditure per attendee, creating economic impact estimates for each year:

  • 1999: $29.2 million
  • 2000: $14.7 million
  • 2001: $16.7 million

Meanwhile, the festival’s tax documents from 2007 [PDF] shed a little more light:

  • The festival paid $124,903 in licenses plus payroll and sales taxes that year.
  • Festival president George McMillan drew compensation of $105,909, with a salary of $22,334 and an expense account of $83,575. He worked an average of 25 hours per week.
  • By contrast, then-festival director Kristie McCullough made $52,568, with a salary of $50,208 and an expense account of $2,360. She worked an average of 40 hours per week.
  • McCullough Advertising received $23,333 in 2007 and $19,883 in 2006 for advertising and marketing services. Guy McCullough was vice president of the board.
  • The budget shortfall was $425,262 from a budget of nearly $3 million. The previous year’s shortfall was $1.1 million.

Birmingham faces a leaner budget this year, with greatly reduced funding for most arts and nonprofit groups. Should the city continue to give money to the festival without requirements? What impact does the festival and its potential disappearance have on the city?

• • •

The festival takes place Friday through Sunday in downtown Birmingham. Tickets are $45 for advance three-day passes (sale ends today), $28 per day, free for age 12 and younger or 60 and older. The lineup includes Doobie Brothers, Indigo Girls, REO Speedwagon, Young Jeezy, Styx and En Vogue. The weather: highs in the low to mid-90s, lows in the mid-70s, with few clouds.

• • •

Also:

  • Birmingham magazine: “Something’s got to give. I don’t think anyone’s denying that: City Stages is in debt, and they too are admitting that change may be necessary.”
  • Birmingham News: Even editorial writer Joey Kennedy and the board can’t pin down the festival’s generated tax dollars (see comments).
  • Birmingham News: City Stages Unplugged, free preview from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday in Linn Park, with Shirock and Dragonfly.
  • Black and White: lineup previews of Friday | Saturday | Sunday
  • Bham.fm: “In the words of David Bazan (Pedro the Lion), ‘If it isn’t making dollars, then it isn’t making sense. If you aren’t moving units, then you’re not worth the expense.’ ”
  • Birmingham Weekly: all stories tagged “City Stages”
  • WBHM (90.3): “Tapestry” one-hour City Stages special
  • The Terminal: “I’d argue that people need to bring suggestions for real solutions to the table before completely bashing the festival and saying it needs to go.”

• • •

Complete City Stages coverage.

budding journalists

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

The students know not
what they’re embracing, but know
how to ask questions.

• • •

Read more haiku.

never alone

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

Hiding in plain sight,
but never quite removed from
public scrutiny.

• • •

Read more haiku.

I am in Birmingham magazine’s Beautiful People issue!*

Monday, June 15th, 2009

*as a featured blogger (feh)

Birmingham magazine June 2009 coverWhat, you thought I was pretty enough to be selected to be among 2009’s Beautiful People in Birmingham magazine? Sigh, no.

But nonetheless, my sites for the Birmingham Blogging Academy and this little ol’ blog Wade on Birmingham are prominently featured, thanks to our pal and associate editor Carla Jean Whitley.

The article focuses on the academy’s origin and courses and how to get started blogging. So be sure to check out:

And absolutely grab a copy of the June issue of Birmingham magazine today!

(Maybe next year I’ll be beautiful. sniff!)

can’t fight the ocean

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Wave after wave rolls
in. They ask no permission,
take nothing, roll back.

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domestic life

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Wine, games, piano,
chores, walks, homesickness, dinner,
reading, kisses, bed.

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Read more haiku.