Spotlight Lexington Festival 2011 canceled
UPDATED, 4 p.m. July 11: Organizers of the 2011 Spotlight Lexington festival announced Monday that the event, seen as one of the legacy projects from the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, has been canceled because of a lack of financial support.
Spotlight 2011 was to be a successor to last year’s hit downtown event during the Games, which featured free public performances by such big-name acts as Blake Shelton and Trombone Shorty. Festival chair Kip Cornett said that though the 2011 event was announced last winter with a quarter of its funding pledged by St. Joseph Health System, a groundswell of additional funding did not materialize. The festival that could have been presented would have been a shadow of its original self, he said.
“It was a little surprising,” Cornett said of the fund-raising shortfall, “but we decided that we didn’t want to do something halfway.”
Cornett said that the committee needed $400,000 to $450,000 to present a Wednesday-to-Sunday downtown festival in the fall along the lines of the Spotlight 2010, which took place over two weeks and three weekends on several downtown stages.
Cornett said fund-raising efforts drummed up about $280,000, and then “we hit a cavalcade of ‘We can’t do it this year,’ and we ran out of doors to knock on.”
It was particularly disappointing, Cornett said, because there was a lot of talk about creating legacy events and projects from the World Equestrian Games, and Spotlight seemed poised to be one of them. According to Lexington police estimates, 175,000 people attended Spotlight events last year.
“The most satisfaction I got out of the Spotlight festival was that we proved we could do these sorts of things,” Cornett said. “We proved that if we pooled our resources and checkbooks, we can do some neat things like the Austins and Cincinnatis and Louisvilles out there.”
Steve Austin, vice president of community leadership and engagement at the Bluegrass Community Foundation, has overseen two legacy projects, the Legacy Trail and the East End Revitalization Project. He said Monday that those projects were successful, noting that fund-raising and work on them had begun before the Games. He said that the foundation now aimed to look at new projects to build on the momentum of the Legacy Trail and East End.
Austin said he was surprised the Spotlight festival had run into trouble because “it seemed like such a natural legacy event, since it was so successful.”
But Austin, like others, acknowledged that the fund-raising environment is not good.
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray said in a written statement, “The economy is taking its toll on fund-raising, just like it’s taking a toll on everything else.
“But we all really enjoyed Spotlight,” he said, “so let’s not give up on it, but take a step back this year to examine and plan and gain community support for a sustainable festival.”
Currently, that is also Cornett and the festival committee’s plan.
Had they presented the festival this year, Cornett said, his fear was it would have been a disappointment and faded away in subsequent years.
Looking forward to a Spotlight 2012, he said it is “still very feasible.”
St. Joseph spokesman Jeff Murphy, who is also on the Spotlight committee, said, “The entire committee is dedicated to repeating the enormous success of the 2010 event.”
Cornett said, “Everyone on the committee is committed to coming back.”
15 Responses to “Spotlight Lexington Festival 2011 canceled”
Aforester July 11th, 2011 at 1:49 pm
How sad. I was looking forward to that.
McAllisterBryant July 11th, 2011 at 1:52 pm
But what about U2 and the Rolling Stones? They were teased for the WEG event. We all just assumed that they waited until the crowds had cleared to show up.
SalamanderSam July 11th, 2011 at 2:17 pm
That is really dissapointing but what else would you expect from a city that really doesnt care about making downtown exciting….I mean for crying out loud Thursday *Night Live basically ends at 7:30…I guess there is always Louisville or Cincy.
tommy caudill July 11th, 2011 at 3:54 pm
see what happens when a republican is in charge? democrats rule!
LexLawyer July 11th, 2011 at 4:27 pm
U2 and the Rolling Stones were mentioned at one time for Alltech’s Fortnight Festival. That was a statewide event that was totally separate from Spotlight Lexington put people never seemed to understand the difference. Both were good events, but Spotlight went off as promised, and was more popular than I expected.
Maggie July 11th, 2011 at 5:00 pm
It may not hurt if this sort of event is held every two years instead of annually. By having two years to fund-raise and plan, it may give way to a larger event with more hype rather than a lesser event held each year to check the box. It also may help break up the sponsorship dollars into two payments, which may be an easier commitment for potential supporters. Keep fightin’ the good fight!
Paul Kelley July 11th, 2011 at 5:09 pm
This is the problem with socialism, the city ran out of other peoples money to spend.
J. Pick July 11th, 2011 at 5:12 pm
I am so steamed. Do the organizers not think that a scaled down version might be more in keeping with what we actually need? It was a great festival and I think everyone enjoyed it – but there’s no need for it to be a Wed-Sun event. If we could make it a Saturday-only or a Fri-Sat event, it could still be very successful – just on a smaller scale. You put on the best event that you can and, if your money was well spent and the event is well organized, the revenue will grow year-on-year. We don’t have 200,000 extra folks in town this year – why did they think that the same money would be available? This needs to happen. This town needs more downtown events where people can just let their hair down and be entertained. This Kip Cornett cat has his head up his…
Salamander Sam brings up a good point….why does Thursday Night Live continue to end at 7:30 when it is obvious the crowd does not want to dissipate. What about starting at 5pm and going until 8:30?
McAllisterBryant July 11th, 2011 at 10:34 pm
We understand the difference…two music festivals, both aiming to and utilizing WEG cross marketing at the same time. Imagine the clarity of the differentiation.
Not really sure why it would need to be a 5 day festival?? Take away a lame night like Wednesday, heck maybe even Sunday, and I’m pretty sure this thing could have still been a great success — and affordable for 2011. Nothing ruins a sequel like not having it at all….
I quit drinking July 12th, 2011 at 11:03 am
I like the scaled down version ideas…
Also, this would be a time for the business community and chamber of commerce to step up – stop expecting the govt and/or arts community to find the sponsors – get int here and make it happen. especially since the mayor is a businessman and “the greatest cheerleader” for our city.
hailiebug July 12th, 2011 at 1:06 pm
This is a shame. Even a scaled back festival would have continued the positive effects of the first. I know a lot of people who do not come downtown except rarely and many of those did come down and really enjoyed the WEG associated festival. I suspect the financial institutions have the ability to fund this event. Just check out the bonuses and CEO pay they continue to lavish on their employees even after the meltdown and bailout.
Some of the comments here are interesting in that they are just based on flat out pure ignorance.
J. Pick: “We don’t have 200,000 extra folks in town this year – why did they think that the same money would be available?” Do you have any idea who “They” are? Has it occurred to you that “they” probably did take into account that there is no WEG in Lexington this year? Potential sponsors certainly did. It’s always “They or Them” who are to blame. Never “we” or “us.” It’s so easy to sit at that computer and do so little of any consequence.
Paul Kelley: Been out of the house lately? Ooooooo, scary! Pretty “socialist” out there with all those guv’mint-provided stoplights, fire stations, police patrols, swimmin’ pools, golf courses and what not…
Bo List July 14th, 2011 at 2:34 pm
A little coordination and a lot of leadership could make a festival happen – by organizing a loose, but like-minded, confederation of venues and producing companies all on board to output acts and events on the same days and nights. Lexington can step up and get this done and raise its profile higher on the cultural map!
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich