Wade on Birmingham

Heads up: No quo like the status quo


city stagesMusic reporter and columnist Mary Colurso would like you to know that running a festival like City Stages is very, very hard work, and that it’s probably too complicated for average folks to understand:

Bear in mind, I have no interest in perpetuating the status quo. Clearly, something isn’t working and has to change in the City Stages formula.

But every time I begin to delve into the festival’s guts — to discuss what a sponsorship entails, for example, or ask how the event’s footprint is configured — I realize that average concertgoers have no idea what it’s like to prepare an event like City Stages and make it happen.

Angry observers can grouse and complain, but they’re not the ones doing the work every year. Nor are most of them in a position to offer practical, effective advice on what City Stages might do to resolve its financial struggles and begin to thrive.

She also mentions that $533,000 in taxpayer money went to the 2008 festival, which will end the budget year around $250,000 in debt.

If we the citizens aren’t able to offer practical advice on how the festival can improve its financial situation, the newspaper of record shares the blame. After all, shouldn’t its music reporter of 11 years — who has access to organizers and documents, who has a master’s degree in journalism — be able to explain such a complex affair as projected revenues and shortfalls to you and me?

Understanding what makes a successful music festival tick in the 21st century, then revamping City Stages in such a model … well, that’s a tougher and more extensive task.

Help us understand, Mary, help us.

If, say, the City Hall reporter were to suggest that average citizens couldn’t understand or weigh in on Birmingham’s operating budget (which passed Wednesday) because of its size and complexity, then the newspaper would have failed in its mission to hold officials accountable while insulting its readership. Hmm.
Birmingham News: Grousing’s not the way to build a better City Stages

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5 Yips for “Heads up: No quo like the status quo”

  1. Ginny
    Friday, July 18, 2008, 9:02 pm


  2. Jeane Goforth
    Sunday, July 20, 2008, 8:00 am

    Based on recent personal experience, the AVERAGE person doesn’t know or care what goes into making City Stages happen. But the exceptional people do. And they’re the ones most likely to be able to offer creative solutions.
    Perhaps it has to do with the AVERAGE newspaper subscriber caring.
    I would be very interested in how it works because I think it would be useful information for my organization.

  3. Mossgard
    Monday, July 21, 2008, 5:47 pm

    I are uh average citizen of Burmingham and I struggle daily trying to figure out how those really exceptshunal people do them City Stage concerts and I wish I was smart enough to make me some really smart suggestions but I’s too stoopid.

    Maybe if they was too make more than they spended…. hey… that might just work, wouldn’t it? Probably not. I’s just too stupid, I guess.

  4. david
    Tuesday, July 22, 2008, 8:46 pm

    I have a lot of respect for the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to make a festival like City Stages happen. I am a music blogger, and put on a two-day day party during SXSW. We don’t have to worry about charging admission, but lining up sponsors, bands, venues, and all the incidentals can be maddening (and we only have 32 bands, two venues and three stages every year to deal with).

    Perhaps less dependence on ticket sales and more on corporate sponsorship? I would love City Stages to be held in April or May instead of June, at the very least not on the same weekend as Bonnaroo.

  5. Wade
    Wednesday, July 23, 2008, 9:44 pm

    @Jeane: It’s hard to know what average citizens want to know about the festival, given the poor reporting being done on all aspects.

    @Mossgard: lol

    @david: Keep pushing those suggestions. Maybe eventually someone will listen.

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