Party Pooper

Arts celebration has some folks in a tizzy

We're not a big fan of parties and festivals here at Buzz, and not because we're misanthropic. Well, not solely because we're misanthropic. We also happen to believe that organized group festivities are generally a bad idea. Nearly every story we've heard of wildly inappropriate or dangerous behavior--getting way too drunk, arson, getting into a fistfight, gunplay, sleeping with an in-law--begins and ends roughly the same way: "So, I, like, went to this party the other night..." and "Anyway, I had to call my mom to bring me bail."

It's a truth we learned long ago while working as a cop beat reporter: At least half the fools who wind up lying cold in a chalk outline wouldn't be there if they hadn't gone where they knew they shouldn't have been in the first place. Namely, some wild party. And don't get us started about all the minor hurt feelings and petty jealousies that parties, weddings, funerals and similar mass gatherings generate.

Or, rather, do get us started, since it's the third paragraph, and it's about time for Buzz to get to the point (other than that we need to hang out with a better class of people). This time we're talking about the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau. They plan to throw a big new festival, the CityArts Celebration, at the end of May; already there's anger flowing, and they haven't even tapped a keg yet.

Richard Pollack, owner of Rainbow Entertainment, a local talent and special event agency, is among a handful of folks upset that the new head of the CVB, Phillip Jones, brought in an outside hired gun from New Orleans to help plan the Arts District celebration. Jones is the former secretary of culture, tourism and recreation in Louisiana.

Pollack says there are at least 20 other people in town qualified to produce the new festival, but they weren't allowed to bid on it, though many pay dues to the CVB. "[Jones] is actually using my membership money to hire a consultant to fly in, stay in hotels and consult on Dallas festivals," Pollack says.

Of course, if you're looking to throw a party, a consultant from New Orleans seems to be a more likely choice than someone from Dallas. In Dallas, the term "party" is more associated with the especially tight-assed faction of the GOP.

Still, Pollack says that a local person would be familiar with the exigencies of festival planning in Dallas--the need for electric generators to power street stages, for example--that an outsider might overlook. He also complains that the new festival is scheduled about the same time as two established fests, and "there's only so much sponsorship money to go around." Finally, Pollack says CityArts is booking some cultural groups, native dance troupes from the Philippines and other countries, that--while they're fine organizations--don't exactly say "Dallas."

To all of this, Jones reponds--and we're summing up here--"Nuh-huh." His consultant, Sandra Dartus, is one of the best event planners in the country, Jones says, and is working for a reduced fee. Plenty of work on the fest is being farmed out to locals, though Pollack isn't getting paid to book the entertainment, which probably has a lot to do with his beef. Jones also says that there will be plenty of up-and-coming local talent featured at the festival, and he hopes the event will eventually draw hundreds of thousands from inside and outside the city.

Well, good luck with that. Though if it's like the parties we're familiar with, we have some advice: Bring bail money and keep your hands off the in-laws.

 
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