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City speeds up Live Music Fund for spring 2023 launch

Friday, July 15, 2022 by Chad Swiatecki

The city has refined its process for rolling out awards for the $3 million Live Music Fund, with city staff preparing to begin dispersing funds to local musicians next spring. That change shaves roughly three months off the timeline for the initial launch of the program that was approved by City Council in 2019, using Hotel Occupancy Tax funds to create more business opportunities for musicians throughout the city.

The Music Commission, which last month expressed frustration over an expected summer 2023 roll out of the awards, heard from Procurement Department staff at Monday’s meeting. Yolanda Miller, deputy procurement officer, shared details of how the department’s 25 staff members will work to conduct a less formal and speedier process to select a vendor instead of a standard request for proposals that would have required three extra months to complete.

The new timeline calls for a solicitation to be published July 25 with the city reaching out to companies and organizations that have conducted work similar to the administrative steps needed to promote the program, accept and evaluate applications, and then disperse the awards that will range from $5,000 to $10,000. The solicitation will close Aug. 16, with a recommendation for City Council action expected by September and Council approval expected by early November.

“This particular solicitation is a little different because it is a service we would not call routine and it is going to be a little more complex because of the importance of what they are going to do for you. We want to make sure we get that right, because if we don’t then we may have to go back to the drawing board, and that would delay it even more,” Miller said. “Because this is such a niche group of companies that can perform these services we are hoping that is going to save a little time and get us to the finish line a little quicker.”

Cyrenthia Ellis, purchasing manager for the Financial Services Department, told the commission that the city heard its request to begin awarding money to musicians and promoters earlier, noting that hiring an outside contractor to administer a city program would have typically taken until February or March.

One of the main reasons the city has decided to hire an outside administrator for the Live Music Fund is because the Economic Development Department has an excessive number of vacancies, and existing staff members are unable to handle the workload of launching a new program quickly.

“We have to allow time to make sure all the vendors can get us the insurance documents we need and get us all the procurement administrative documents that we need to execute,” she said. “This is a very, very expedited process because normally this would have been finished by around February 2023, so we really pulled this up to try to meet the demands.”

Commission Chair Anne-Charlotte Patterson and other commissioners thanked staff for taking steps to speed up the solicitation and launch timeline.

“It sounds like this moves the timeline up from summer to spring, so we’re all crossing our fingers for that and the hope would be to make this into achieving March or April for first disbursements if possible,” she said.

In response to a question about weighing the expedited schedule with the need for properly conducting the application and evaluation process, Miller said procurement staff decided to take a “glass half-full” view in working to oversee the solicitation and hiring of the outside firm.

“You could have a company that has an unrealistic timeline that might be fighting for this contract, so we want to couple that with actual experience in doing this service because it would not serve you if we took this as a high priority, made an award, and it did not come to fruition,” she said.

Photo made available through a Creative Commons license.

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