CAPC approves Overhead Music Series after debate

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

By Samantha Jones


Music will be in the air in downtown Eureka Springs every weekend until November as part of the Overhead Music Series.

At the regular meeting of the Eureka Springs City Advertising and Promotion Commission on Wednesday, Aug. 26, the commission heard from interim director Gina Rambo about the music series. Rambo said events coordinator Tracy Johnson has planned the series, which features musicians playing on balconies throughout downtown.

“This past weekend, we had music on a couple of balconies,” Rambo said. “[Johnson] is going to add a balcony on Main Street, too. We had rave phone calls and texts and talked to people on the street. Everybody was really thrilled with it.”

Commissioner Terry McClung asked what the schedule is for the series.

“I’d like to know,” McClung said. “I’d like to catch a little of it.”

Johnson said the specific time and location of the performances is being kept secret as part of the promotion. The performances will take place on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Johnson said, and she hopes they will continue until mid-November.

“That’s 13 weeks of music. It starts on Thursday night, Friday night and five different times throughout the day on Saturday spread throughout our town,” Johnson said. “There’s no location mentioned. It’s strictly the Overhead Music Series — listen for music above the streets in Eureka Springs.”

Overall, Johnson said, there will be 78 performances. McClung asked if the performances will be held at different locations and Johnson said they will be.

“It’s kind of part of the promotion not to name them aloud,” Johnson said. “Since we’re being recorded now, is that something I can let you all know individually not on the mic?”

A couple of commissioners said that would be fine, but it wasn’t fine with chairwoman Carol Wright.

“Actually, you’re spending tax money to do it so we have a right to ask you. Thank you,” Wright said.

“Yeah, I just wanted to double check … didn’t mean anything by that, if you’ll excuse me,” Johnson said. “There’s one being utilized on the balcony facing Basin Park, which is a great one because that’s amplified music and it takes the place of missing music in our park.”

Commissioner Jeff Carter asked if the performances are taking place on the balconies of local businesses and Johnson said they are.

“The other one is on Spring Street, one level above Spring Street,” Johnson said. “The Rowdy Beaver Den has a balcony out there.”

“Does the other business have a name?” Carter asked.

“Yes, it’s in the hotel there,” Johnson said.

Wright said she received an email from a person asking if it’s legal for the commission to host entertainment at a business and Rambo said that’s been done several times in the past. Wright asked if Rambo checked with the Arkansas Municipal League.

“We didn’t check because we’ve done it so many times before,” Rambo said.

“It’s my understanding that it is our mission to use our tax dollars to bring people to town, not to entertain people who are already here,” Wright said.

“But …” Rambo said.

“Excuse me, if you read our mission, our mission is to bring people to town to add to the tax base,” Wright said. “I just want to make sure we are on very firm ground, that you guys are taking responsibility.”

“We’ve had these conversations for weeks,” Rambo said.

“Weeks?” Wright asked. “Have any of the commissioners been involved in this at all?”

“I’ve been aware of it,” said commissioner Susan Harman.

“How is that?” Wright asked,

“Because we’ve had the discussion here at this meeting that they were going to do this,” Harman said.

“On private property?” Wright asked.

“That they were going to be on balconies, that they were going to be music-related … I mean, we had the discussion probably at least a month ago at one of our meetings,” Harman said.

Wright asked if the money was approved for the series and Rambo said Johnson has $86,000 left in her events budget.

“The commission should decide what should be done with that money,” Carter said.

“You give her an events budget,” Rambo said. “She plans the events.”

Commissioner Bobbie Foster said she enjoyed hearing the music over the weekend and Wright said she wants to make sure the commission is spending money appropriately. Wright asked about the schedule for the series and Johnson reiterated that it will last 13 weeks.

Harman then moved to continue with the program on Thursday, Friday and Saturday through the weekend of the Folk Festival in November.

“I don’t think we can proceed on that until we have determined it is legal,” Wright said.

“We can make a motion and we can get a second on that and we can absolutely vote on it,” Harman said.

McClung asked how much the series would cost over the 13 weeks and Johnson said it would be around $20,000. That would leave $62,000 in the events budget, Johnson said.

The commission voted unanimously to approve the motion. At the end of the meeting, Foster and commissioner Greg Moon thanked the staff for all their hard work.

The commission’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 23, at The Auditorium.

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