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Letter from Piedmont Park Conservancy CEO Mark Banta about Music Midtown

Mark Banta Mark Banta of the Piedmont Park Conservancy at Music Midtown in 2015 (Photo by David Luse)

Note to readers:

My Maria’s Metro column this week on Music Midtown generated quite a bit of response and reaction (and it has been updated with a couple of corrections).

The Atlanta Business Chronicle followed up with responses from Live Nation’s Peter Conlon  and from Amy Phuong, commissioner of the Atlanta Department of Parks and Recreation.

Here is a letter from Mark Banta, president and CEO of the Piedmont Park Conservancy. He was responding to both my initial comments as well as the stories that appeared on the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s website.

For engaged Atlantans who care about Music Midtown and Piedmont Park  will find the whole conversation enlightened.  It is a goal of SaportaReport to inform readers about the what is going on in their community and to help spark conversations about policies that will lead to a more vibrant and united city.

Thank you readers for your participation in this conversation.

Maria Saporta

Mark Banta

Mark Banta of the Piedmont Park Conservancy at Music Midtown in 2015 (Photo by David Luse)

Letter from:

Mark Banta, president and CEO of the Piedmont Park Conservancy:

The beautiful park we enjoy is the product of a 27 year Private/Public Partnership that is a model others emulate. We are very grateful for our relationship with the City of Atlanta and specifically, the Parks & Recreation Department.  Our mutual goal is to maintain Piedmont Park as the world class green heart of Atlanta, and we work with all events who receive permits from the City to use the park to help them as best as possible to protect the park and the $66 million of improvements made possible by our members and donors.

The Piedmont Park Conservancy did not wish to get drawn into the debate and conversation now occurring in the Atlanta Business Chronicle.  We were asked a direct question about whether we had received a donation from LiveNation for 2015 or 2016 and we answered honestly that we had not.  We did not previously attempt to correct the record when LiveNation mentioned making the donation in articles leading up to last year’s festival or when Atlanta Business Chronicle writer Phil Hudson repeated this in his June 8, 2016 article “Music Midtown Changes Format”.

We never had an agreement with Music Midtown for our assistance with prior concerts.  A proposed consulting agreement was sent to us in December 2015, months after the 2015 concert.   We did not sign it because we felt that some of the language in the proposed agreement was not consistent with our role as an independent voice with a mission to preserve and protect the park for usage by all people.  In our communications with LiveNation, we explained that the Conservancy is not in a position to serve as a paid contractor to LiveNation for the Music Midtown Festival, as doing so would present a conflict of interest. We do not require an agreement to assist the organizers of an event that is in Piedmont Park. We have greatly appreciated Music Midtown’s donations to us in the past.  In previous year’s we recognized their payment as a contribution.   Even without a contribution, we have continued to work closely with Music Midtown just as we did in all prior years to work together on best management practices for protecting the park during the event and remediation after – our assistance to LiveNation and Music Midtown has not changed and will not change if the event is held again

We are also grateful for the LiveNation’s consistent support of Conservancy fundraisers including Landmark Luncheon and The Party for Piedmont Park (formerly Passion for Piedmont Park).  Peter Conlon with LiveNation has made personal contributions as well as authorizing repairs and improvements ahead of or after the music festival that were above and beyond what may have been required in the normal remediation process.

As mentioned previously, we would love to receive support from all groups who choose to hold their events in Piedmont Park to help us with our mission to maintain the beauty of the park that they enjoy during their events. We also appreciate the opportunity to rent some of the facilities during large events such as Music Midtown however the rent collected is a fraction of what the Conservancy would generate over a normal weekend.  This was one of the reasons for the original $100,000 contribution.

Putting aside the debate over details, the Piedmont Park Conservancy will continue to work hard to raise funds every week of the year to be able to work successfully with our great partners at the City to preserve, maintain, and grow this world-class park that we all love and enjoy.

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.


1 Comment

  1. Richard Bunn October 4, 2016 5:20 pm

    What is all that blather?  It does not make a bit of sense.  The fact is that any charges to use the park for festival should be funneled back into restoring the park to its “Pre-Festival” condition. PERIOD.  Or the city should change the agreements that require the “renters” to restore the park out of the proceeds.
    Furthermore, Our Great Piedmont Park is a peoples park and as such should not be access-limited for any event.  AGAIN PERIOD!Report


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