The Oak Ridge City Council could consider changes to the Secret City Festival tonight, including an expansion and a possible move to the fall.
The annual festival could be expanded into a celebration that could start in October and run through Veterans Day (November 11), last at least a week, and include the Secret City Festival. The expanded festival—which now includes music, children’s activities, a World War II re-enactment, and vendors and exhibitors—could be called the Secret City Celebration.
The changes have been recommended by the Special Events Advisory Task Force, which was set up by City Council in February and chaired by Council member Trina Baughn. The task force was expected to meet for six months and then provide a report to Council.
“The idea is not to limit the celebration to a single event, but to incorporate other activities over an expanded period of time that allow for greater participation by both patrons and various organizations within the community,” Baughn said in an August 5 memo to City Council.
Here are the task force’s specific recommendations:
- Expand the scope of the Secret City Festival into a celebration that starts sometime in October and runs through Veterans Day, November 11; lasts at least a week; and includes the Secret City Festival.
- Direct the city manager to enter into a professional services agreement to set up a nonprofit organization that would be responsible for implementing the Secret City Festival/Celebration, with the goal of having the organization be self-sustaining within five years.
- Set up a 14-member board of directors for the nonprofit and require the board to hire an executive director or consultant within 12 months of their first meeting.
- Appoint the nonprofit’s first board of directors at the October meeting of the City Council “or as soon thereafter as practical.”
- Encourage the nonprofit to develop a veterans theme for the celebration around the arts, history, science, and culture of Oak Ridge, either directly or indirectly with other organizations.
The independent nonprofit could function similar to the Dogwood Arts Council in Knoxville.
The changes are being considered against a backdrop of concern, at least among some current and former Council members, about the festival’s return on investment; a decline in special events funding; the festival’s dependence on city staff and resources and the cost to the city; and the date, which is close to several other festivals that the city also helps promote, including the Dragon Boat Festival in May, Lavender Festival in June, and July 4 fireworks.
More information on the discussion of the proposed changes is available in the earlier story by Oak Ridge Today.
The Monday night meeting starts at 7 p.m. September 14 in the Oak Ridge Municipal Building Courtroom. See the agenda here.
Information on this year’s Secret City Festival, which could be the last one in June, is available here. Organizers said this year’s festival had record concert crowds.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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