City Hall Park Concert Canceled Due to Size Concerns | Music News + Views | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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City Hall Park Concert Canceled Due to Size Concerns


Published October 6, 2022 at 10:57 a.m.
Updated November 15, 2022 at 8:01 p.m.

North Ave Jax - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • North Ave Jax
A free concert scheduled for Friday, October 7, has been canceled by the City of Burlington after concerns arose due to higher-than-expected projected attendance.

Local promotion outfit Love, Kelly put together the concert, a showcase of rising Vermont hip-hop artists featuring 99 Neighbors and North Ave Jax. Growing concern from multiple sources — including a private security firm hired by the city, as well as the Burlington Police Department and members of the public — led to the cancellation. A press release from Burlington City Arts, which manages rental agreements for City Hall Park, stated that the BCA is working with the city and Love, Kelly to find a new date and venue for the event.

When the show was initially pitched, Love, Kelly, which is helmed by Kelly Butts-Spirito, informed the BCA and the Burlington Parks & Recreation Commission that up to 300 people were expected to attend.
  • Courtesy of Shane Kaseta
  • 99 Neighbors
Based on ticket sales at local venues, the city projected that the show might have drawn a crowd of 1,000 to the park, something officials worried would overwhelm any kind of support structure they put in place.

"Crowd management is paramount in event planning for the safety of all involved," said BCA festival and event director Zach Williamson, according to the press release. "When you have two very popular acts doing a free show in a small park without a perimeter, there is no way to control the crowd and adequately ensure the safety of those performing or in attendance. With those concerns, we don't feel this show is right for the venue of City Hall Park."

In a social media post, Butts-Spirito wrote that the event being canceled is "much deeper than music."

"This movement is now beyond entertainment," the promoter wrote. "Its about changing how our state views youth who challenge the status quo. I believe that the city made a mistake by shutting down this event." He also noted that he and BCA are working hard to reschedule the event at a new venue.

"This last minute decision by the city is heartbreaking to many of us," continued Butts-Spirito. "We are working hard to find a fall fest solution and keep momentum moving forward. I apologize to the Love Kelly fam, the friends and fans of the artists, the vendors, the people coming from out of state and anyone else who has been looking forward to this event all month like I have. We doubled security & We did everything we possibly could to make this work."

"This is a group of artists we desperately want to be working with," BCA executive director Doreen Kraft said in the press release. "These are young, local, and talented promoters and musicians who are trying to do a great thing for their community. BCA wants to be there to support them however we can."
Acting Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad pointed out his department's efforts to ensure safety in the downtown core, touting "a Priority Response Plan that focuses on the City Center Area, and relies not just on police officers but also on Community Service Officers,  Street Outreach, and private security, " according to the press release. "Right now, however, none of these various resources has the ability to address large-scale events that exceed City Hall Park's capacity." 

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