McMinnville officials are feeling the music, but will that groove equate to money for Cumberland Caverns Live?
“Historically, we have been allocating money every year to give to Bluegrass Underground and obviously, we are not doing that anymore,” said Alderman Ryle Chastain, during a Finance Committee meeting. “I know they haven’t (formally) requested it, but I’m going to recommend working in some capacity with Cumberland Caverns Live to see if we can help them out.”
In January, RCS Production president Stephen Moore offered a presentation to the city and verbally requested underwriting of $48,000 to boost a partnership between RCS and Cumberland Caverns to offer concerts due to Bluegrass Underground’s relocation.
However, Moore has yet to submit a marketing plan to the city and a written request for funding. Unlike nonprofit or civic organizations, the city cannot gift property tax dollars to for-profit organizations. However, the city can be an underwriter.
As a financial supporter of Bluegrass Underground, the city purchased exposure as it was included in all media efforts related to the PBS filming of Bluegrass Underground at Cumberland Caverns.
Alderman Everett Brock doubts that same exposure will be available with RCS Production.
“These people are marketing in a very regional area,” said Brock. “We had the whole country when we had Bluegrass Underground.”
Officials provided $50,000 for the filming of Bluegrass Underground in its first TV season on PBS. In 2016, the city signed a three-year agreement for $62,500 a year for a total of $187,500. However, when producers relocated the show after the 2017 season, the agreement ended.
“I would like to do something to make sure they stay there,” said Newman. “I don’t want them to fizzle out because of lack of capital. I want to keep them there. It helps keep people coming here and helps tourism.”
Alderman Steve Harvey says city officials justified giving a for-profit organization taxpayer dollars because of the advertising the city received through the nationwide TV series.
“You are not going to justify giving them $40,000,” said Harvey. “You just can’t do that. The way we did it before (with Bluegrass Underground) was advertising all over the United States. That’s how we justified it. What it all boils down to is you are giving a for-profit organization money. It was easier to justify because of the advertising.”
Mentioned at the meeting was a potential agreement in the works between WCTE-TV and RCS Production to film Cumberland Caverns Live concerts for broadcast.
The subject was discussion only. No motion was made to allocate funds for RCS Production because the meeting was held to consider donations to nonprofit charitable and civic organizations. RCS is neither.