Even beautiful lives have to end. As David Forbes reported in “Goodbye Bele Chere, Hello ‘Creative Economies,’” Asheville City Council decided at its March 12 meeting to discontinue funding for Bele Chere, after this year. “This year's Bele Chere will be the last — at least, the last run by the city, as Asheville City Council members agreed during a March 12 budget session to end their financial involvement,” David Forbes writes. “As part of an overhaul in the way government deals with arts and festivals, city staff are also contemplating a ‘creative economies’ position, instead of a traditional arts-administration staff.”
We asked readers on Facebook and Mountainx.com for their reactions to the Bele Chere bombshell. About 100 people responded through comments, “likes” and original posts. Which parade do you march in? Are you crying into your Mega Gulp slushie, or throwing doughnuts in air with glee? Join the conversation at mountainx.com. — Jaye Bartell
Woooohoooooo! — Holly McDonald-Ball
I don't dislike Bele Chere, but I don't think it's an event the city needs to fund. — Sharon Baggett Withrow
Who needs Bele Chere, when there are Big Love Fest & LAAFF? So much more fun, more interesting, and more representative of Asheville than BC. BC is bad for many downtown businesses on a weekend that would otherwise be a great $$ generating weekend. Get rid of it, or move its dates to a slower time of the year. — Caroline Green Christopoulos
Shrink it, but continue it as an arts festival — and at a better time of year. — Jordan Mitchell
Can't say I'll miss the angry, megaphone-wielding street preachers. — Christina Melton
It's funny because almost everyone I know that lives here doesn't say "are you going to Bel Chere" but rather "where are you going for Bel Chere?" Before I lived in Asheville, many years ago, we used to come up from Knoxville for Bel Chere.
I haven't gone in years but to run down and get a giant turkey leg! Last year my turkey leg was awful so I planned on maybe skipping that tradition this year. … — Der Zeitgeist Geistreich
I'll be so sad if it ends! Yeah I said it. — Frank Brooks
Sad fiscal reality. I love Bele Chere. — Elizabeth Tierney Hussey
Last year the festival’s revenue was $16K, the year before it made over $83K. City policy states that the festival has to come back into the black every year – that is why it got scaled back so much about 4 years ago as it was continuously running in the red. Ever since the scale back the festival has actually made a profit.
The actual cost to the city is in staff & departmental resources & services. (wouldn’t the city still give a lot of resources and services if an organization like the ADA took over?)
I’d like to see the press pr city staff to find a way to actually translate those jobs & services into numbers so City Council has some actual numerical facts before basing their decision; because I’m not sure they’d really save as much as they’d like to have us think.
And, if they cut those staff members who run Bele Chere, I suppose that in turn kills off all the other festivals that the City sponsors as well? ( 4th of July, Easter Eggstavaganza at Carrier Park, Holidays Tails & Hey Day at the Nature Center, etc.) So are they equating those savings into the budget as well?
I’m not really for or against the festival either way -but I’d like the numbers to be real and for council to know & relate the full extent of the facts on this matter. — Foto Jennic
Thanks — good analysis. Did you mean to say I’d like to 'see the media press city staff' above? Which I'd like to see as well. — Jim Barton
If it means redirecting those funds towards good festivals like LAAFF and Mtn Sports Fest, I'm all for it. BC hasn't been good for a while. — Ken Jones
Good riddance. there's a reason why nearly all business owners protest it by closing down, and most locals with the ability to do so leave town for the weekend. — Ashley McClelland
Makes me happy. I really don't think it represented Asheville and hasn't for years. — Cathy Williams
Nonsense! It is simply time for Bele Chere to reincarnate! — Jerita Wright
That really sucks! I like the music and all the cool people! — Rocco Di Guiseppe
I can endure the rising heat for the music. Will miss it. Gumbay was also very scaled down last year. Sorry to see these festivals going away. — Kay M. Rickman
Replace it with something more family friendly. Something I can bring my child to without the fear of a drunk falling on him or someone cussing in front if him. Something more geared towards families, perhaps alcohol free. — Jamie Vinkowski
It is shortsighted for the city to drop a popular event that has made the city a profit the past three years. It should be saved, even if reorganized to support local artists and businesses more. — John L. Haldane