Connection Festival is
"We had One Spark, which is a great event and made a big impact on
Shortly after the inaugural One Spark in
But One Spark was top heavy with business, entrepreneurs and startup enterprises with culture and music providing support. Connection Festival will be the inverse with music and culture serving as the driving force and commerce and technology being support features, Lezcano said.
The lineup of performers listed on connectionfestival.com is extensive with about 80 acts on the roster. There will be national and international acts performing, including the likes of Less Than Jake and
Where One Spark catered to startup businesses and crowdfunding support, Lezcano said Connection Festival is operating on a similar platform but for cultural development.
"We're giving them a platform to actually showcase their stuff," Lezcano said. "These guys are the end game."
The main stage will be set in a parking lot at the intersection of Main and Adams streets. That venue alone will hold about 5,000 people and will require the
But many of the local acts will be playing for free at local clubs in the downtown area known as the Elbow, within a few blocks of the
The Connection Festival footprint is much smaller than the 20-block template that One Spark operated on. But Connection Festival is much more concentrated on local talent.
The budgeting is also different. Lezcano said Connection Festival has a
"Their idea and their energy behind it is fantastic," Munz said Thursday. "There is a sense that we feel honored that anyone would give us that tilt of the hat. It's really reflective of the pride and honor of
There are considerable risks with formulating any new festival. Despite the huge success of One Spark drawing an estimated 260,000 people to downtown for the four-day event this year, organizers are still operating at a financial deficit that is being covered by financial backer
Lezcano said he's aware of those risks and has experienced them as a veteran concert promoter and band manager for about two decades.
Lezcano said the financial concerns are already being addressed. While Connection Festival already has multiple corporate sponsorship, Lezcano said the event also has a private financial backer, though he declined to disclose the name of that backer.
All the permits for the event have been secured, and there will be no tax dollar infusion into the Connection Festival. One Spark had about
The fact that Connection Festival is using the One Spark paradigm is already drawing attention from downtown
"I think it's absolutely critical," McCormack said. "I'm convinced that one of the key elements to being successful in downtown is to continue to have events that bring people downtown who wouldn't ordinarily come downtown."
While a majority of the artists will be local, McCormack said Connection Festival might develop into a draw well beyond
"I assume this thing could morph in different directions," McCormack said. "Exposure to our local entertainment and local acts is very important. It gives them a better venue to communicate their brand and maybe take them to a different level on a more national basis."
"It's very important for the fabric of our community," Brown said, adding he'd like to see even more downtown festivals and block parties. "It's so important to continue on that momentum and excitement that something is happening downtown and that we're making downtown a destination, not just a pass-through."
The timing of Connection Festival also comes on the heels of what was an undeniably successful spring festival season downtown.
Lezcano said it's not clear how many people Connection Festival can draw downtown. But this year's event is only the beginning.
Lezcano said Connection Festival's design is to have more than one city involved and the initial target is to involve
In that sense, Connection Festival is also similar to One Spark which is already expanding to at least one other city --
Munz acknowledged he's fascinated by the startup Connection Festival. But he advised organizers to muster as much tenacity and flexibility if they want to make it through the early stages and rise to the level of One Spark.
"With any startup organization it's important to have flexibility starting with the vision and the strategy," Munz said. "They are going to make mistakes just like we did.
"But being able to recognize what works, what needs tweaking in order to make it even more successful is probably the biggest takeaway that we or I could offer them," Munz said.
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