Music promoter William “Cadillac” Banks has written the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners asking that the board either fund his two-day music festival that will target African-American tourists and performers or send the issue back to the Tourist Development Commission.
TO: THE ESCAMBIA COUNTY BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
I have decided to put this in letter form. Three minutes will not be enough time on June 2nd to explain my position resulting from the TDC meeting of May 3rd.
Let me clarify a few things that this board does not know, and explain how this process went. The TDC Board had thirty-five proposals. After hearing all proposals, the TDC Board eliminated 22. Banks Enterprise was one of the thirteen remaining. After five hours, the Board started dividing the $4.38 million dollars. My request for $386,684 was cut to $150,000, then cut further to $75,000. The project would have been under-capitalized and would have resulted in a embarrassment for me and this County.
At the May 3rd meeting for the first time ever, the TDC Board announced that I could only spend the money on advertising, and that I could not pay for talent from these funds. This restriction on how I could utilize the funds for this project came out of no where. I had never been told or advised about any such restriction prior to submitting my proposal. The TDC board had issued a notice prior to this May 3rd meeting which showed how the funds would be divided in accordance with BP guidelines. Under those guidelines my event fell under special events, which specifically stated “Escambia County will use these funds to enhance participation, attendance and/or registration for select festivals, sporting events, conference, concerts, shows and special events”. The notice went on to say specifically, “Escambia County will use these funds to assist with the staging and promotion of events”. Nothing under the special event section said the funds could only be used for advertising. A concert cannot happen without first securing the artist with a deposit. The TDC Board shouldn’t be allowed to change the rules in the middle of the game. Compliance becomes impossible if the rules are changed in the middle of the process.
My proposal targets the black communities in five states and twenty-nine cities. None of the other event proposals submitted to the TDC did anything at all like this. After doing thorough research, I found that last year was the 15th anniversary of the Essence Music Festival. Over 400,000 people attended. This festival is a black music festival held in New Orleans, Louisiana. My research further revealed that the attendees spent $190 million over the four-day weekend. This research establishes that black people will travel and spend money if they have the right incentive.
It takes more than newspapers, television, radio or $100.00 gift cards to draw people to an area. This is not about race. This is about economic growth for Escambia County, Florida. It was never my intention to create a controversy between black and white in this community. However, the perception is out there.
There is a simple solution to this problem. I am asking this Board to correct the problem, by either funding the event or sending the issue back to the TDC for reconsideration. The potential benefit to this county resulting from a first-time success is too important to allow the project to be eliminated before it begins. This county needs to take advantage of the funds resulting from the damage we all suffered last summer. No other project submitted has the capability of creating an annual “heads and beds” surge that this event will produce.
Thank you in advance for your time and consideration in this matter. If you should have any questions, feel free to contact me.
William “Cadillac” Banks, CEO