I am extremely offended and affronted by "Saving POPAsheville" [July 1 Xpress]. Never have I ever read such a thinly veiled advertisement for a failed financial venture masked as a piece of journalism. Why are we responsible for $15,000 that is essentially paying for one person's salary ("As [Stephanie] Morgan explains it, $12,000 would pay for Hackett to take on the full-time job of festival director, which takes more than 600 hours of work"), which has been left until a made-up two-week due date because the previous organizer "hasn't had time" to pursue financial sustainability?
The gall of these two women to ask this of our community, which is continuously dealing with unemployment, poverty and other effects of the recession too numerous to list, is simply absurd. On top of this, the writer is blatantly biased (writing with such sickeningly sweet melodrama, including phrases like "legions of dedicated fans," "wild success" and "indie phenomenon"). For Mountain Xpress to print this article causes me to lose much of my respect for the publication's journalistic integrity. It reads much more as one friend doing another friend a favor.
Numerous questions arise, such as: Why is the festival not looking to create a core group of 10 volunteers, each donating (for free) a manageable 60 hours of their time, even if only for this year? Especially if there are "legions of dedicated fans," this should be an easy task. Why can't the timeline be modified to give the organizers more time to pursue corporate sponsors rather than appealing to the public? What is POPAsheville contributing to the community that we can't live without or that one of the numerous other music festivals can't pick up? Hundreds of nonprofits that are actually providing essential services to the people in this community are struggling with financial challenges because of decreased giving and increased need.
I challenge Xpress to dedicate as large of a weekly space to the work of our community agencies, to whom even $1,000 would mean a significant increase in volunteers or basic supplies. As for Ms. Morgan, who "hasn't had time" to ensure the continuation of this festival, I'm absolutely not going to be responsible to clean up her mess.
Arts and Entertainment Editor Rebecca Sulock responds: The news about POPAsheville appeared in an A&E column entitled "Spork," a mix of snippets about the area's art and music communities. The column wasn't intended as a detailed look at POPAsheville's financial situation or its place among other agencies looking for funding; we intended to let readers know about a call put out by Morgan, founder of one of this community's popular grassroots festivals. We included contact information for POPAsheville for those looking for further information. On a related note, in lean economic times, music and art often have an even more important role to play in our human struggle.
— Mara McLaughlin