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City: Political clout won't sway festival applications | News

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City: Political clout won't sway festival applications
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ATLANTA -- The city says political connections won't matter when it chooses which of two festivals will use Piedmont Park on the same weekend in September.

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One is Music Midtown, the other is the Atlanta Arts Festival.

The contrast couldn't be clearer. Music Midtown is a big, high-profile, big-money event. The Atlanta Arts Festival appears to be the underdog. But the city ordinance appears to give a clear edge to the underdog.

The Atlanta Arts Festival may be more modest, but it's been in Piedmont Park longer. And for 2015, the Atlanta Arts Festival sent in its application first -- applying in November to use Piedmont Park on the weekend of September 19. Music Midtown submitted its application just last week.

Atlanta City Ordinance (142.12) says "…when there are competing outdoor event applications that are substantially for the same time and place… then the earlier or earliest of those applications… shall be given priority as to the time and place requested."

For backers of the arts festival, the question is whether Music Midtown's $400,000 fee might speak louder than the $5,000 fee paid by the Arts Festival -- and whether Mayor Kasim Reed's ties with promoter Peter Conlon could be a factor.

In an email, Reed spokesperson says, "Asserting that (Conlon) would get the permit because he is a supporter of the mayor…is ridiculous. The city is working with both organizations to find a solution."

"I think clout really shouldn't be the criteria," said neighborhood association president Tony Rizzuto. "It should really be about whether that venue should be appropriate for the event."

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