Since the city of McMinnville voted to underwrite the “Bluegrass Underground” TV series to air on PBS this fall, public reaction has been negative.
“I’ve received more flack from this than anything else we’ve done,” said Alderman Billy Wood. “People are mad. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
One misconception in the community is the city “donated” $50,000 to a for-profit organization.
“We paid for advertising,” said Vice Mayor Everett Brock, who has not received any angry comments. “We did not donate $50,000. When everything is said and done, it will only be $25,000.”
The city is waiting on word that county government has been successful in its attempt to obtain a grant for $25,000 to pay half the city’s cost for underwriting the series.
“We haven’t received any word yet on that, but I think it will happen,” said Brock. “If it doesn’t, it was still a good deal when it comes to paying for advertising.”
According to information provided to the city by Todd Jerrell, who partnered with Todd Mayo to produce the “Bluegrass Underground” TV series, the city will get back more than $150,000.
“With approximately 5,600 attendees per year, ‘Bluegrass Underground’ is an economic engine for the McMinnville economy, offering a 3-to-1 return on investment,” he said. “Including refreshments, before and after meals, souvenirs and gifts, transportation, child care and lodging, the concert series can be expected to bring $158,256 into McMinnville’s community in the next year.”
When it airs, “Bluegrass Underground” will be available to over 99 percent of American homes via PBS. Millions of Americans and Canadians will be seeing the special qualities of Cumberland Caverns, the talents of the musical acts in the series, and the top production quality of the series on a weekly basis, says Jerrell.
“Bluegrass Underground” is following in the footsteps of others. During its past season, “Austin City Limits” aired on 337 TV stations, a total of 17,805 broadcasts, while “Soundstage” aired on 317 TV stations, a total of 7,671 broadcasts.
A 2009 Simmons Research Data full-year study found self-identified bluegrass music fans are:
• 19 percent more likely to be 45-54 years of age
• 11 percent more likely to be 55-64 years of age
• 18 percent more likely to earn $50,000 to $60,000 a year
• 14 percent more likely to earn $60,000 to $75,000 a year
• 23 percent more likely to consider music as “an important part of my life”
• 28 percent more likely to do “unconventional things” such as viewing a concert in a cave
• 19 percent more likely to dine out
Jerrell says the research shows “Bluegrass Underground” fans are apt to be a bit older and have more disposable income for shopping, dining and extending their stays in local McMinnville lodging.
Officials voted to underwrite the series, which means the city will be given ad space in exchange for its monetary contribution.
Unless the county gets its grant for half, two payments of $25,000 will be made — one when the agreement was signed, and one after the 2011-12 fiscal year budget is set in September.