The Tricentennial Commission has withdrawn from an agreement with Maverick Music Festival that would have given a $1.2 million boost to the local festival in 2018 to celebrate San Antonio’s 300th anniversary.
The nonprofit Commission lacks the funding to underwrite such a music festival, according to Tricentennial CEO Edward Benavides, who said his organization instead is offering “partnership opportunities” to any and all entities that want to organize music festivals for consideration as officially sanctioned events.
“We [arrived] at an impasse [with Maverick] because the timing and deliverables of funding were not such that it worked out,” Benavides said. “We had to take a step back … shift our approach.”
In other words, Tricentennial officials are unable to find sponsors or otherwise raise adequate funding to underwrite the $1.2 million required to support the festival’s expansion.
Tricentennial officials are still actively fundraising for various initiatives and events, while critics have said the City waited too long to begin Tricentennial planning and lacks the necessary corporate sponsors to organize a truly international celebration that will attract visitors.
“The Commission has received or has commitments of $4 million from the corporate community and continues to grow,” Benavides said.
Other sources close to the selection process suggest that concerns about Maverick’s connections to Tricentennial leadership sparked the change in plans.
Maverick Festival founder Blayne Tucker serves on the Tricentennial Commission, as does Faith Radle, who owns the event production company Galaxy Presents LLC, which co-owns the festival with Tobin Center for Performing Arts.
“We both recused ourselves from the entire process,” Tucker stated in an email to the Rivard Report on Thursday.
Benavides confirmed that neither Tucker nor Radle have been part of the process. The request for proposal (RFP), he added, was crafted by City, Tricentennial, and legal staff – no one that plays a “part in any music festival.”
Opening up the partnership provides the Tricentennial another “opportunity to be inclusive,” Benavides said. “If it’s just one main event, then it’s just one … we want to ensure that the momentum continues throughout the year.”
Instead of providing funding to one, single event, “local music festivals will gain the opportunity to market themselves as an official part of San Antonio’s 300th anniversary commemoration,” according to a news release sent out on Wednesday. Those music festivals, if such events develop, will be featured on Tricentennial event calendars.
Organizers for music festivals and other events that want official Tricentennial branding have until Aug. 1 to submit an application to become an official partner.
“One of the guiding principles of the Tricentennial is that it should showcase our city’s diversity, inclusiveness, and authenticity,” Benavides stated in the release. “In that spirit of inclusivity, we recommended a redesign of the music festival component of the commemoration to allow for multiple festivals and their organizers to thrive as Community Partners. The Tricentennial welcomes all genres of music festivals so that we can best reflect the volume of musical expressions that bring our city to life.”
A request for proposals (RFP) was sent out last year, Benavides said, and the Tricentennial received five proposals. Maverick was selected and the agreement was approved in late March.
Tucker confirmed that since March, it became apparent that the Tricentennial did not have the funding to make one, big “Commemorative Concert” partnership work. But when asked if he thought that opening it up to all music festivals is a positive development, Tucker stated, “Yes, anything that involves the entire community of San Antonio is positive. Inclusivity is a core tenet of the Tricentennial.”
Despite the change of plans, Maverick Fest 2018 will have some “very special surprises,” he said.
The 2018 show will be the Maverick’s sixth concert series. The locally owned festival recently added the Tobin Center’s Vice President of Marketing and Programming Aaron Zimmerman to the core organizing and booking team. Last year, the festival hosted about 18,000 people, Tucker said.
Is Tucker disappointed by the Commission’s decision to shift gears?
“As a commissioner, my primary concern is [with] the Tricentennial and City of San Antonio as a whole. In the end, it doesn’t change anything for Maverick one way or another: Maverick was there to support Tricentennial,” he wrote. “However, I do regret all of the time and energy all respondents expended answering the RFP. As a commission, we should not have issued an RFP without available funds. At this juncture, it’s unclear to me why staff issued one in the first place. ”
More than 400 local organizations have signed up to be community partners so far. Tricentennial planners anticipate more than 550 events throughout the city in 2018.
The Tricentennial itself has dozens of events and legacy projects in the planning stages for the year that tie into four elements: History & Education, Arts & Culture, Community Service, and Commemorative Week. The latter will take place May 1-6, 2018, and will include days of reflection, history and education, city founders, the arts, San Antonio’s legacy, and military appreciation.
It all kicks off with a bigger-than-ever New Year’s Eve party on Dec. 31. The Tricentennial will be producing the show this year with KSAT-TV, the official media partner of the Tricentennial, along with Univision.
The nonprofit San Antonio Parks Foundation typically runs the event – its largest fundraising event – with partner WOAI-TV, but this year the City gave the rights to Tricentennial.
Plans for New Year’s Eve go far beyond fireworks and bands on stage downtown, Benavides said. The names will be bigger – someone the same “caliber as Beyon?e,” he said – and the fireworks will be bigger, but the Tricentennial also plans to open a portion of the eight-acre Civic Park that will still be under construction, close adjacent Alamo and Market streets to vehicle traffic, and host a New Year’s Eve ball inside the Hilton Hotel.