Originally Published: April 1, 2016 6 a.m.
PRESCOTT – A somewhat scaled-back concert series could continue in downtown Prescott this summer, despite the City of Prescott’s 2016 budget cutbacks.
Prescott City Manager Craig McConnell reported in his weekly council briefing memo that the Prescott Downtown Partnership (PDP) has agreed to produce the 2016 Summer Concert Series, in place of the city.
The agreement would require an amendment to the city’s contract with PDP, adding as much as $24,000 to the amount the city pays to the organization. McConnell added that the Yavapai Gaming Agency has indicated that it also would provide $6,000 in support to the PDP for the entertainment.
The contract amendment is scheduled to go to the Prescott City Council on April 19, McConnell’s memo stated.
PDP Director Kendall Jaspers said Thursday, March 31, that the downtown organization has been in talks with the city on the matter. While some of the details have yet to be finalized, Jaspers said the PDP hopes to see the concert series continue.
Noting that a number of events were affected by the city’s recent elimination of its special events manager position, Jaspers said, “We’re trying to hang onto as much of that as we can.”
On Jan. 1, as a part of about $1 million in cuts to its general fund, the city eliminated the special events manager position. Previously, that position had handled the planning and booking for the summer-long concert series, as well as a number of other city events, such as the July 4 celebration.
As a part of the change, the special events division was shifted to the city’s recreation services department.
Since then, the city has contracted out the July 4 celebration to a private company. The move to partner with the PDP for the summer concert series is the latest in recreation services’ adjustments to the change.
“Due to the reduction in force, special events was moved over, without the personnel,” Recreation Services Director Joe Baynes said Thursday.
Because the department did not have the staff to take on the concert series, Baynes said, “We reached out to PDP, since the concert series is so important to downtown Prescott.”
Jaspers agreed that the concert series is a valuable event for the downtown. “We think it’s very important,” he said. “It adds to the character of the downtown.”
Jaspers and Prescott Tourism Director Don Prince both point out that the concert series – which previously included events on Tuesdays, Wednesday, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays – helps to bring people to the downtown in the middle of the week.
“We have traditionally had the challenge of attracting visitors mid-week,” Prince said Thursday. The summer concert series has helped the city to make progress in that in recent years, he added.
Along with the many local residents who attend, Prince said the mid-week events have been an attractive feature for meeting planners and tour operators “who are always looking for things for their clients to be able to do.”
Jaspers said the concert series would likely be scaled back a bit in 2016. For instance, the Wednesday night movies on the courthouse plaza would go away – in part to give the courthouse grass a break from the crowds. The series also probably will not extend to Saturday nights.
Still, the most popular events, such as Prescott Karaoke Idol on Thursday, jazz on Tuesdays, and bands on Friday, would continue under the new arrangement, Jaspers said.
Although the money details are still being discussed, Jaspers said the sound system is the biggest expense for the concert series. PDP would also have to have a staff member on-site to handle the events.
Baynes said the $24,000 cost for PDP’s participation would likely be “cost-neutral (with the exception of the labor costs)” for the city, as compared to previous years.