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Monroe MusicFest organizer asks for more money despite 2013 failures
MONROE - The future of the Monroe MusicFest, which intended to be a grand-scale concert at Lake Tye on but fell short of its goals last year, may be in flux as the City Council is reconsidering giving the organizer any taxpayer dollars again.
Monroe MusicFest 2013 organizer Keith Brock compared the situation to cultivating fruit trees regarding the precarious situation of a possible second festival.
The City Council gave the festival $40,000 last year, which was most of its funding, but the festival outspent its revenues by $36,000. The total cost added up to close to $50,000, with revenues of $9,340 coming from ticket sales and two sponsors providing $8,000.
The City Council is now weighing a request for $65,000 to support another MusicFest.
Brock was quick to say the festival needed improvements in financing the show last week before the City Council, but insisted the event was a success and just needed more exposure.
“Our goal wasn’t to make a big profit, but to make an event for the community. … This was a gift from the city to the community,” Brock said.
Event organizers hoped for 2,000 people. MusicFest 2013 sold 467 tickets. About 700 people attended, and many people got in free for what Brock described as “a perfect evening for the show.”
The event brought an all-star lineup including Brock’s neighbor John Popper from the band Blues Traveler. Brock, a guitarist with connections to the music business, created his own band by hand-picking musicians who’ve played with Chicago, Supertramp, Carlos Santana and other headliners.
The expenses list, though, included sound and lighting that cost more than $15,000 provided by one of Brock’s contacts. Part of that cost was flying that technician in from Los Angeles and housing the technician in a hotel.
The musicians, including two opening acts and Brock’s hand-picked band, cost $12,300. Brock’s band reportedly was paid $9,000.
The remainder of the expenditures were each under $2,000.
Brock said he is still lining up vendors and musicians to commit this year, and said it’s a simple fix to get them right now. He doesn’t have them committed yet.
The event needs more exposure to be a success, Brock said. 
“I look at this exactly like this: take a fruit tree, and you plant it the first year,” Brock said. “And when you go out that summer, if it’s not yielding any fruit, do you cut it down? Do you throw it on the burn pile, and that’s it? My belief is that the fruit tree has to be fertilized and watered, so that it can grow with the help of the bees. The following year, you’ll see some fruit on it. ... 700 people walked away going, ‘wow, that was fantastic.’ Let’s let more people know. I think you’ll be surprised at the results.”
Brock said he hopes to bring in more ticket sales this year to help with costs. He also told the council he will produce a solid list of vendors within the next two weeks, and follow the same marketing plan that was instilled last year.
“Those things are rock-n-roll and ready to go,” Brock said.

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