$62,000.00 dollars seems like a lot to spend for one concert. Yet that’s the amount Cape May City Council approved yesterday for an agreement between Encore Services, Inc. and the Philly POPS and the City of Cape May.
The Council approved that exorbitant fee as they dealt with a cloud of clamor about legal fees set aside for employees of the City as a result of the ongoing police chief controversy. The resolution to approve the $62,000 only became public at the request of a resident during public comments at Tuesday’s work session. As someone asked at a previous Council meeting: “where’s the common sense?”
Pulling off a production of the Philly POPS doesn’t end with a $62,000 artist fee. Even if the audience sells out the 800 seat capacity of Convention Hall at $65.00 a ticket (a big if), the event still falls $10,000 short of breaking even. That does not include a piano rental and specific sound equipment requests that the Philly POPs makes. Labor, electrical, lighting and food for performers and soon you are potentially another $20,000 in production costs. Again where’s the common sense?
I’m quite the cheerleader when it comes to promoting Cape May and all she has to offer. I understand the business of a loss leader when it has tangential benefits, such as press coverage etc. Events like Movies on the Beach, offered by the Chamber of Commerce and the City of Cape May add value to the vacationers experience while they are here.
Paying an artist $62,000.00 dollars on an inevitably full weekend does not do the same thing in my opinion. God bless Mayor Mahaney, Solicitor Monzo and Council woman Swain, for what the Mayor described as substantial donations to help underwrite the event.
At the previous Council Meeting (overshadowed by the demotion of Police Chief Robert Sheehan) this same council approved a budget that reduced the Fire Department payroll by $70,000. At any moment in Cape May there are never more than 4 paid Fireman /EMT’s on duty. Yes, it is the off season and they are backed up by Volunteers to a degree, but Council continues to ignore the plea of the residents to replace the payroll into the budget.
In a previous blog post I talked about the burden on tourists. By burden, I was referring to the taxation the tourists contribute to Cape May. A taxation without representation if you will, similar to the second homeowner in Cape May who pays taxes yet cannot vote locally. The tourist-paid taxes are the money supply for the Tourism Utility. The Tourism Utility provides the funds to operate and hire the acts that come to Convention Hall here in Cape May. The average tourist is not likely to shell out $65 bucks on vacation to see someone they can see back home for half the price or less. So where’s the common sense?
If our Tourism Utility had a marketing plan that included destination marketing with the supposed surplus that exists, I probably would not be so upset by the concert proposal. I supported the Philly POPs the first time around. According to the resolution, the City has thirty days from yesterday to execute the contract with Encore Services. Perhaps within that thirty days, some common sense will settle in.
I’m probably not alone in my thinking on this topic. What say you?