Sunday, June 1, 2003

MidPoint Music Festival gets city funds

By Larry Nager
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Cincinnati will rock a little harder this year, thanks to a $15,000 allocation from the city for the production of the 2003 MidPoint Music Festival.

Sept. 24-27, the local new-music showcase, which drew 10,000 people in its debut last fall, will bring 150 acts to 13 venues in the Main Street entertainment district.

"This is just perfect for what we're trying to accomplish on Main Street," Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken said.

"We would rather not prime the pump with these things, but as we saw in the seafood festival (which moved to Northern Kentucky), if you snooze you lose."

The money is part of $95,000 in city funds allocated for the Riverfront Classic before the annual fall football game moved to Cleveland.

The city showed verbal support for MidPoint when it debuted in 2002, but this is the first financial support, said MidPoint co-founder Sean Rhiney.

"I'm a big believer in cash, not compliments," said Rhiney. "For city government to show this kind of commitment is significant."

He added that the money, some of which will be used to bring in higher profile speakers and industry panelists, had no influence in MidPoint's decision to keep all events centered on Main Street. Last year, the festival had several venues in Covington and Newport. But delays and confusion regarding the free festival shuttle caused problems.

"The No. 1 piece of feedback we had last year from attendees and participants is it would be nice if it was centralized. This will allow music fans to move from venue to venue with a little more ease."

Cincinnati will get a good return on its investment, Rhiney promised.

"It all goes back into the city," he asserted. "We'll spend that kind of money at the hotels. Not to mention everything that will come in with the performers eating, sleeping and spending money in Cincinnati."

The mother of all such new-music festivals, Austin's South X Southwest, has an annual economic impact of more than $25 million on the Texas capital's economy.

City Councilman John Cranley has been a supporter of MidPoint from the beginning. He's glad to see it all happening in downtown Cincinnati.

"Regionalism shouldn't be about competition," said Cranley. "But it is nice, now and then, when people pick your side of the river."


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