Promoter’s Fest-Funding Blues

A promoter in Halifax, Nova Scotia, is having a rough time securing funding for an upcoming blues festival from a local committee that he claims is using inconsistent standards to distribute grants.

Bruce Smith, whose Great Atlantic Blues & Beyond Festival is scheduled for September 19-21, is seeking $150,000 to cover some of the expenses for his show’s inaugural year, according to the city’s Chronicle Herald.

Smith submitted his request earlier this summer to the city’s regional council which denied it, apparently because it didn’t meet the Special Events Advisory Committee’s criteria for funding.

Specifically, the grant was denied because “the event was a for-profit event, details were not secure, there were no signed contracts from the performers, there were plans for a ‘pay at gate’ performance, and it would be a first-time event with a questionable budget,” according to council minutes.

But within the funding policy lies a problem.

While city officials claim they only fund nonprofit events, Smith told Pollstar the council previously approved hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding for two private concerts and sporting events at the Halifax Commons.

“Supposedly, based on that policy, they only fund not-for-profit organizations and mine is a for-profit organization,” Smith said. “However, they have allotted $300,000 for two privately funded concerts … I’m wondering why I’m being discriminated against for this festival.”

Although Smith said one counselor who supports Great Atlantic Blues reintroduced the motion to fund the festival and it was sent back to the SEAC for review in early September, he’s not expecting to receive the grant.

However, with or without it, Smith is continuing with the festival, although he said the lack of funding will cut into marketing and advertising as well as visual elements that he’d hoped to have in place on the site.

Performances at the three-day fest will include Johnny and Edgar Winter, Rick Derringer, Duke Robillard, John Hammond, Coco Montoya, Charlie Musselwhite and Bettye LaVette, among others.