Off the Chopping Block: RiverWinds Summer Concerts Set in Motion
While it wasn't smooth sailing, West Deptford's township committee passed a resolution ensuring a summer concert series this year.
For those about to rock at RiverWinds, we salute you.
This time last year, the fate of the RiverWinds summer concert series hung in the balance. But this year's concerts look substantially more stable.
After much debate over the series' financial viability, West Deptford's township committee voted Thursday to move ahead with the popular concerts. The committee agreed to grant Mayor Raymond Chintall power to sign a contract with Anderson Entertainment Management, in order to secure bands for this year’s series.
The decision came after a discussion led by Deputy Mayor Sean Kilpatrick at the Feb. 7 township committee meeting. Kilpatrick talked about the importance of the concert series—attracting nonresidents to the town and potential out-of-town sponsors—and urged the committee to get the ball rolling on it as soon as possible.
Not everyone was on board.
“We all love these concerts, but they cannot be a burden,” Committeeman Sam Cianfarini said. “Programs like this cannot be more of an expense than an asset to the community.”
The summer concert series also came under fire last March after Cianfarini motioned for the series to be contingent upon the coverage of all costs. The motion died on the table in 2012. Cianfarini rehashed sentiments from last year, suggesting the series become a private investment by enabling the caterer to be master contractor.
Citing security as a major issue, Committeewoman Denice DiCarlo raised concerns about potential lapses if the series was taken over by another party.
Last year’s summer concert series generated $33,750 in revenue. With the cost for the bands coming in at less than $36,000 last year, some revenue offset police expenses, which totaled approximately $7,500, Kilpatrick said. Other expenses for last year also included Spot-A-Pots at $600.
As with Cianfarini, Chintall also raised concerns about taxpayers footing the bill for the summer concert series. While he acknowledged sponsors, for the most part, cover band costs, Chintall's main concern lies with taxpayers footing the bill for police officers needed during the concert series.
To ensure that all concert series expenses would be covered, Cianfarini asked if an early commitment from sponsors was possible to evaluate potential revenue prior to passing a resolution.
“Sponsors want to sponsor certain bands and we can’t do that without a list of bands,” Greg Ley, West Deptford recreation director, responded. Bands could take other offers in the interim of the committee passing a resolution, risking potential sponsorships, Ley added.
“Every schedule we hold in our hands runs the risk of running away,” echoed Frank Annunziato of Anderson Entertainment Management Inc.
There's tremendous potential for revenue from the concert series, but it needs a jump-start, Annunziato added. Proposing an "a la carte" option, Cianfarini suggested the township select only bands that garner sponsors, instead of contracting a preselected 12 bands.
The committee could have an "entire menu" of bands at its disposal, Annunziato said—but only if the committee begins soliciting sponsors in September, not February or March. An a la carte approach this year may results in the loss of bands, he added.
With that said, Kilpatrick motioned for a resolution enabling the mayor to execute a contract with Anderson Entertainment Management Inc. Seconded by DiCarlo, the vote passed 3-1; Cianfarini voted no and Committeewoman Donna Szymborski was absent.
Following the vote, residents voiced their support for the concerts.
“That’s culture,” said Dave Sileo. “If we give that up, we’re making a big mistake.”
Kilpatrick shared similar sentiments, pointing a sense of togetherness the series elicits.
“It’s a great thing to see families together like that,” says Kilpatrick. “In this day and age, I think it’s priceless.”
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