Cost is in on Ben Harper’s Avon concert: a loss of $68K
September 21, 2017
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect concert numbers released on Friday, Sept. 22.
According to an Avon Town Council packet released Friday, the total expenses for the Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals concert on Sept. 15 were $158,145 against a total revenue of $89,797. The difference? A loss of $68,348 for the town.
Town officials had said earlier this week they weren’t yet sure what the final revenue and expense figures would reveal. But the bottom line tells only part of the story. The concert was Avon’s first attempt at an independently produced and ticketed event.
Not all attendees were pleased with the production. During the concert, Harper himself invited the $35 ticket holders up to the front of the venue, where the $160 ticket holders were enjoying premium views of the show.
"Nothing was done to preserve those seating areas," Lori Sudduth, of Colorado Springs, wrote to the Avon Town Council following the show. "There was no security to be seen after the concert began."
"I do think it was a huge learning lesson for the town, in terms of what it takes, and what it means to produce an event … ourselves," Avon Mayor Jennie Fancher said. "Everyone on staff was pitching in and working the gates."
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The show had six different seating tiers, but when it started to rain, concertgoers moved up to get underneath the canopy of the stage, Fancher said.
"Everyone moved back, and then he started playing and he was like, 'Come on up,'" Fancher said of Harper. "I think he saw the vibe and the energy and was like 'Oh my gosh it's raining, these people are miserable.' But in the end I think it was a great show."
Fancher said the worst of the weather didn't occur during Harper's set.
"The minute he was finished playing, it let loose," she said.
Council member Jake Wolf, himself a musician, said earlier this week that he wasn't expecting to know the exact cost of the concert the day of the concert, despite the suggestion from the town manager that those numbers would be in.
"I know it takes time to sit down and figure out what the true cost is of a show like that," Wolf said. "I'm sure we'll know by Sept. 29 when the special events committee meets, because I know there's some other event funding requests which they were waiting to see how Ben Harper did before they OK'd those."
The revenue and expenses for the Ben Harper concert were included as a table in the council’s agenda packet for its Sept. 26 meeting. The packet is available on the town’s website as of Friday, Sept. 22. Click here to read the two-page report about special events funding.
BEN OF THE CLIFF
Wolf mentioned funding requests from the Man of the Cliff event producers and the Vail Valley Foundation; Man of the Cliff is seeking $6,000 for its annual woodsman competition in Nottingham Park, and the Vail Valley Foundation is seeking $25,000 for the Birds of Prey World Cup ski races at Beaver Creek. The issue was discussed at the Avon Town Council meeting on Sept. 12, where Egger summed up the special events committee's position.
"The committee … felt 'Let's see what results from Ben Harper, and if there's funds available, our committee meets on Sept. 29, we will then entertain cash for you at that time,'" said town manager Virginia Egger. "If there wasn't cash, let's say the 70 is gone, that doesn't preclude them from coming to council and asking for more money."
Fancher said regardless of the Ben Harper concert's final cost to the town, she expects the $6,000 Man of the Cliff funding request to pass the council on Tuesday, Sept. 26. While the agenda had not yet been released as of the original publication of this story, Fancher confirmed the topic of the Man of the Cliff event will be on the council's Sept. 26 agenda.
"I feel the council wants to make sure (Man of the Cliff) is supported," Fancher said. "I think it's a great event, I think we like it. I think we want to support it where they need to be supported."