InCuya Music Festival bites the dust after just one year


CLEVELAND, Ohio – Looks as though the inaugural InCuya Music Festival was the final InCuya Music Festival.

Cleveland Concert Company, a consortium that conceived and presented the downtown summer music festival on Malls B and C this past August, today announced that they are “reevaluating” its future.

“In light of cancelling its contract with AEG Presents, the organizers will determine a more sustainable business model for future events,’’ the group said in a statement that was released to the press Friday morning.

“While the inaugural event showed a lot of potential, our team felt that the timing to proceed with the event in 2019 would be challenging. Building on what we learned, we’re open to considering potential options for the future,” said Board Chair Sunny Nixon, Cleveland Concert Company in the release sent out Friday.

The cancellation of the partnership with AEG Presents apparently came down after the board members of Triple C – as Cleveland Concert Company refers to itself – went over the financials from the festival, which was held on Aug. 25 and 26, 2018.

In an earlier story, AEG Presents chief operating officer Shawn Trell appeared to favor aligning his company with Triple C. The question had arisen after a shakeup at AEG Presents that included the ouster of Senior Vice President Joe Litvag, who was in charge of festivals for the company, and actually made the connection with InCuya.

“Yes, we are bullish [on Cleveland],” Trell said in an email to The Plain Dealer in that story. “In the last year, I have purchased the Agora, spent over $3 million renovating it, and we produced the first year of a new festival and look forward to Year Two.”

In an emailed statement in response to inquiries from The Plain Dealer, Triple C’s Nixon addressed the split from AEG:

“With regard to AEG’s restructuring, AEG Presents parted ways with several people who had been primary contacts for Triple C as well as changing leadership for markets that included ours,’’ Nixon said in her statement.

“Triple C’s contract with AEG Presents included the possibility to plan future events or to terminate the relationship, and Triple C chose the latter,’’ she wrote.

David Gilbert of Destination Cleveland and Greg Harris of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, two of the partners who helped promote the InCuya Music Festival, but did not have any financial stake in it, both saw positives in the festival, despite its apparent demise.

“Planning and hosting a 2-day downtown music festival of this scale is a significant undertaking, and we’re proud to have supported this group of risk takers,” said David Gilbert, president and CEO of Destination Cleveland in the release announcing the cancellation of a 2019 InCuya Music Festival. “And we’ll continue to support future events that help nurture our more than 68,000 travel and tourism jobs and $8.8 billion of economic impact from the tourism industry in Cuyahoga County.”

“InCuya delivered a great fan experience and exciting live music on a grand scale in downtown Cleveland,” said Harris, the president and CEO of the Rock Hall, in that release. “With some retooling, a future festival could be a major success, and we look forward to continuing to support music initiatives that embody our mission to engage, teach and inspire through the power of rock and roll.”

It’s noteworthy that the release announcing the hiatus of the festival for Summer 2019 does not use the word “cancel,’’ and instead focuses on Triple C defining “a more sustainable business model for future events.”

That leaves open the chance for a variation of the festival to survive, perhaps as soon as 2020.

(This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.)

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