Festivals challenge city measure

Festivals Push Back on City Proposals

Ticket prices to Atlanta's many public festivals could shoot skyward if a proposed city ordinance that triples some permit fees is approved. That's the concern of a group of festival organizations that banded together last week under the banner of the Atlanta Events and Festivals Association to solidify their lobbying power.

The group — which includes Music Midtown, Atlanta Pride Festival, Peachtree Road Race, Sweet Auburn Festival, Inman Park Festival, Virginia Highland Summerfest, St. Patrick's Day Parade, Downtown Rocks and Lenox Fireworks — worries that the proposal will stifle new festivals and prove costly to existing ones, says Donna Narducci, executive director of the Atlanta Pride Committee.

For instance, where larger festivals such as Music Midtown and Atlanta Pride now pay $6,500 for their annual permits, the new rules would more than triple the fees for the for-profit Music Midtown, to $20,000, and double the cost for the nonprofit Atlanta Pride, to $11,000.

The association is likewise concerned about a proposed requirement to give the city a clean-up deposit up-front, based on the size of the expected crowd. For an event the size of Atlanta Pride, that expense could be as much as $75,000, without a detailed procedure for recovering the unused funds, Narducci says.

"That's like paying a penalty for a violation that hasn't occurred," she explains, adding that the result could be fewer events and higher ticket prices.

The proposal is scheduled to be debated next month by the City Council.??