Hollywood Director Rips Cedar Rapids Over Failed Festival
The disaster that was the Newbo Evolve Festival is becoming fully realized in recent weeks. The event lost $2.3 million. It caused the folding of the GO Cedar Rapids organization. But the real, long-term damage to the city of Cedar Rapids is only becoming apparent in recent days. One of the unpaid acts who performed at the festival, Hollywood director and screenwriter John Waters, is speaking out and he is NOT happy.
Waters was one of the featured speakers at the Newbo Evolve festival. He spoke to a packed room at Theater Cedar Rapids. In a phone interview with the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Waters said that he was paid a portion of his fee up front and was promised the rest after the event. That, of course, never happened, and Waters is letting the city have it.
I've been doing this for 50 years, and this is only the third time I've been ripped off, so I don't like your city. Who would have thought the city of Cedar Rapids would rip me off? I'm not going back there and I'm telling anyone who asks not to go there."
Ouch. You can see the potential long-term effects this disaster could have on tourism for the city of Cedar Rapids. Even though the city and what was GO Cedar Rapids were separate entities, vendors like Waters who are owed money don't care. Waters went on to say,
It was badly managed and it was the city's fault for not keeping an eye on it. Someone should have been watching.
He's right. More oversight was needed. Board members, including city officials, say they were misled by former CEO Aaron McCreight, who was fired after the festival. Waters concluded that the entire episode leaves a sour taste because he was promised multiple times, including recently by interim CEO Jim Haddad, that he would get paid. He never will.
These are the thoughts of just one of the many vendors GO Cedar Rapids didn't pay. It's scary to think what the others might be saying or thinking about the city we live and work in.