Organizers of the Capitol Hill Block Party are scrambling today to muster community support for adding an additional day of rock n roll and hip hop to the 2010 edition of the annual music festival, according to a City of Seattle official.
According to Virgina Swanson who heads up the special events permitting process for the city, Block Party organizers came to her to request that a third day be added to the event’s permit which currently allows for the festival to take over the streets in central Pike/Pine on Friday, July 23 and Saturday, July 24. Before the third date will be permitted, Swanson said organizers must show “significant” community support for the extra day.
“We won’t permit it unless the majority of the businesses and residents sign off,” Swanson told CHS. Swanson said organizers must bring the city a sheet with collected signatures from people they have talked to indicating their support — or non support — for the addition.
According to Swanson, Block Party organizers Dave Meinert and Grady Chapman are out beating the pavement of Pike/Pine today in a rush to gather community support from businesses and residents that will be affected by adding a third day to the popular festival. She said organizers have asked for a special meeting on Friday with her to discuss the third day because a major act’s participation in the Block Party hinges on a Sunday appearance.
“We’re going to meet with them tomorrow and see what he produces,” Swanson said of Meinert’s signature drive. “They’re up against a real tight timeline. They’re out there all over the community today.”
One place they are not, however, is the Internet. A search of the Fuzed Music and Capitol Hill Block Party marketing and communication sites and accounts doesn’t turn up any mention of the community outreach. And the group didn’t turn to Block Party presenter The Stranger to get the word out either. CHS found out about the scramble from a person who attended a community meeting where Meinert made his pitch.
We’ll contact Meinert and Chapman to ask them more about the Sunday addition and update this post when we know more.
If Meinert and Chapman don’t make it your way, you can e-mail Swanson at email@example.com with your message or support — or non support — for the Sunday addition.
Beyond concerns about impacts to the businesses and residents of adding a third day of street closures, crowds and noise, Swanson said she is also concerned about a plan for the extra day of the festival to go until 10 PM on a Sunday. We wrote about some of the community gripes about CHBP last summer.
The summer party of loud music and good times on the streets of Pike/Pine draws more than 10,000 people to Capitol Hill to hear an eclectic mix of national, local — and local heroes gone national! — acts. It is organized by Meinert’s Fuzed Music, a Hill based music management and consulting company and sponsored by The Stranger, KEXP, Caffe Vita, Miller Highlife and several other national and local brands. Last year, advance tickets cost $22 per day. There is no price information on the CHBP Web site for the 2010 festival and the links to vendor TicketsWest were broken.
UPDATE 3:58 PM:
CHS spoke with organizer Dave Meinert this afternoon about the effort to secure a permit from the city that will allow a third day for the annual Capitol Hill Block Party.
“There’s a demand to make the Block Party bigger,” Meinert said. “We don’t really want to make it bigger as far as booking bigger bands or taking up more space. But adding a day accomplishes that.”
Meinert told CHS he expects the third day would draw an additional 5,000 to 6,000 people to the Hill for the weekend pushing attendance over the 20,000 mark. That would be a boon for the festival, local businesses that benefit from it — but also an increase in the negative aspects of the event like noise and trash.
Meinert said he has documented the support of 27 area business for Friday’s meeting with members of the city’s Special Events Committee. Getting residential support? That’s another story.
“It’s difficult to reach the people that live around here,” Meinert said. He gave an example of the condo building across the street where he wasn’t even able to find somebody to buzz him in. “It’s a challenge but we’ve already had a dialogue with people who live in one building that will improve the experience.” Meinert said that after talking with a resident, he thinks there’s a way to make adjustments to one of the three stages to reduce the impact of noise on residents in one particularly impacted building.
Meinert said he’s also ready to go farther to make the Party work with mitigation solutions like offering up hotel rooms for the weekend, free tickets and freebies at local businesses. “A lot of the people who live here, go,” Meinert said about residential support for CHBP. “We want it to work for people who don’t.”
Meinert might also face renewed opposition from businesses in the area that feel left out of the Block Party process. We’ve heard about a few business owners who plan to use this opportunity to have a better dialogue about their needs with festival organizers.
As for the scramble to document support this week, Meinert said he’s been asking for the city to make a decision on the third Block Party day since March but that he had to push for a meeting this week as a decision on a big headliner loomed. “The decision is going to be made tomorrow,” Meinert said, even if the city doesn’t decide on the permit. “If we don’t know tomorrow, we lose them.”
Still, Meinert said, if the third day isn’t approved this year, organizers will work to include it in the plans for 2011 and beyond. “We don’t want to be Bumbershoot. We don’t want to be Sasquatch,” Meinert said. “But there’s a demand for more.”
You can read Meinert in his own words in the comment below for more. He said he planned to contact CHS about the situation after talking to a local organization and residents that said they get their news about the neighborhood from the site. We just beat him to it.