Millions lost on Jackson Rhythm and Blues Festival - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Millions lost on Jackson Rhythm and Blues Festival

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The Jackson Rhythm and Blues Festival may not be returning this year because of millions reportedly lost since its inception, according to a PEER memo. Visit Jackson officials say there were no losses, instead an investment in bringing tourism to the city.

Senator John Hohrn says the Jackson Rhythm and Blues Festival lost roughly $600,000.00 each year.

According to the District 26 senator, complaints about losses, wasteful spending and the consultant receiving a cash commission led to the PEER memo.

It states that from 2013-2016 the festival lost more than $2.3 million dollars.

During that time the cost of performances exceeded the revenue generated from ticket sales by an average of $175,000.00.

Festival organizers were also said to have been unable to attract sufficient cash sponsors to subsidize the festival's operating costs.

"They continued to go down that road for five years losing spending about $800,000.00 a year, losing on average about $600,000.00 each year and again judgment and proper utilization of resources comes into question," said Hohrn.

Visit Jackson was formerly the Jackson Visitors and Convention Bureau.

Chairman Robert Gibbs said the money was an investment and although the attendance was not what they wanted, it takes three to four years for a festival to become profitable.

Gibbs said the event was designed to have an economic impact on the city.

The agency operates on about a $3 million dollar a year budget.

"The Rhythm and Blues Festival the first year cost us about 19% of our overall budget. Last year it only cost us about 11% of our overall, and we invest in other festivals," said Gibbs. "Other events even with the two new museums in Jackson, we invest in those".

Alex Thomas was the consultant and promoter from 2013-17.  

According to the report, he was paid over $344,000.00.

He said the report gives an inaccurate picture of direct and indirect costs.

The owner of Blue South Entertainment, which represents artists, denies receiving any unauthorized commissions..

He said artists he represents performed, but he did not receive a fee.

The report indicated that he did not receive a commission or fee.

"They're basing those numbers against ticket sales so it makes it look like there's a really high number of loss when we increased those numbers each year. So actually by year 2017, the event was going in the right direction of growth," said Thomas.

Visit Jackson is funded by a one-cent hotel and restaurant tax. 

The organization hopes to bring another festival like endeavor to the city in the future.

Thomas, a Jackson native, wants to continue working with the city to bring more musical events.

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