by Terry Rogers
On Monday, December 9, Milford City Council voted to give Downtown Milford, Inc. $30,000 for the Ladybug Music Festival planned for September 2020. In it’s initial request, DMI asked for $15,000, half what they expect to spend to put on the Festival.
“The week after last year’s Ladybug Music Festival, I was approached by several of you on Council telling me how wonderful the event was,” Peggy Reilly, President of DMI, said. “I also believe that several of you, at a meeting soon after the Festival, promised the citizens of Milford that we would have the Festival again and told us to let you know what you could do to help us. That is why we are here tonight.”
Trish Gerken, Executive Director of DMI, explained that the organization was asking Council to provide matching funds of $15,000 to help pay for the Festival.
Mayor Archie Campbell told Council that the City of Smyrna budgets for this type of large festival, providing the funds to pay for bands, food trucks and other attractions that cost money in order to put on such a large festival. Gerken explained that Smyrna exclusively puts on a festival similar to the Ladybug Music Festival but that DMI was not asking Milford City Council to do that. Reilly explained that DMI had a subcommittee whose responsibilities were solely to fundraise for the Festival and that the group understood what an economic driver this type of event was for the City.
“Our motto is ‘Hometown, Rivertown, Art Town,’” Councilman Michael Boyer said. “Yet, as a council, we simply do not support the arts. This is one of the biggest events in our town and we need to support it. At the budget they have presented, we will only achieve what we had last year. We want to try to grow this event and make it bigger each year. We need to support this as much as we possibly can.”
Gerken explained that they did want to grow the Festival and that they hoped to add an international stage to the event. The Ladybug Music Festival celebrates women in music. It was created in 2012 by Gable Music Ventures as a block party in Wilmington. It was inspired by Firefly which brings tens of thousands to the state. However, because the ticket prices were so high for Firefly, many were unable to attend. The Ladybug Music Festival was a free event and all performers were female singers or bands with female leads. The festival expanded to Milford in 2018.
“We implemented a lodging tax as a way to support these types of events,” City Manager Eric Norenberg said. “We budgeted how much would be raised with that tax conservatively, so there are funds available for events like this.”
Reilly pointed out Council’s funding of the Festival would diminish DMI’s need to use arts grants’ funding to support the Festival and the organization could put those funds to more permanent public art. Councilman Jason James pointed out that this type of festival is a huge benefit for downtown area and funding is critical for DMI to grow the event.
A motion to provide DMI with $30,000 for the Ladybug Music Festival was passed with a vote of 6-0.
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