One of the biggest events of the MOJA Arts Festival is facing a major budgetary crisis, according to the chair of the festival’s planning committee.
During this week’s meeting of Charleston City Council, MOJA Planning Committee Chairman Angel Quintero requested an emergency contribution of $80,000 from the city to help fund this Saturday’s R&B concert at RiverDogs Stadium featuring Cameo and Monica.
“We had some people that stepped in to save that event. A lot of the deposits and everything were made. Of course, ticket sales are coming in now, so a lot of the money will be recouped that we’re asking for. We’re asking for about $80,000,” Quintero said to City Council on Tuesday. “A lot of that will be recouped as ticket sales go forward because we are a city where we get a lot of walk-up traffic.”
While a majority of the events that take place during the MOJA Festival are produced and directed by the city’s Office of Cultural Affairs, the annual R&B concert is handled by an outside promoter. Scott Watson, director of that department, says this is mainly to avoid any large-scale financial risk for the city, but also to provide an opportunity for private businesses to profit from the event. Watson said he was concerned that the $80,000 request to council would make it seem as if something is amiss with overall finances of MOJA Arts Festival, which is rebounding from last year's rash of cancellations due to weather. With a brighter forecast for the coming days, Watson regrets the current situation facing the annual R&B concert, but believes that there are plenty of other entertainment opportunities for those attending the festival.
At the conclusion of Tuesday’s council meeting, Mayor John Tecklenburg said he had just been made aware of the budgetary shortfall in the past two days. According to Tecklenburg, the promoter lined up to run the event dropped out in recent weeks, but the problems surrounding the concert didn’t stop there.
“I was told the other day that they had only sold 10 tickets to the event. This is at The Joe, so you can sell thousands of tickets there, and apparently the cost of the concert is substantial,” the mayor said. “Admittedly, you would sell probably most of your tickets right close to the event or that day, but it’s hard to imagine they’re going to be able to sell that many. So you’ve got this one event out of all the MOJA events that is in jeopardy. I would respectfully say it doesn’t ruin the whole festival, but this has happened before, I understand. I believe that our city going forward needs to look at who we’re doing business with in terms of privately promoting events like this and maybe taking the responsibility ourselves rather than taking the risk of a promoter dropping out.”