Venue management, local leaders discuss Artpark's future at public forum
by Joshua Maloni
Artpark has one goal in mind for the 2012 summer season: smaller crowds watching bigger musical acts.
"We're shooting for a smaller number that is manageable," said Chris Brown, chairman of the Artpark & Co. board of directors. At a public forum held Tuesday at the Village of Lewiston Red Brick School, he told a crowd of between 150 and 200 that venue management can't handle crowds exceeding 25,000 or 30,000.
Brown said Artpark & Co. is in the "development stages" of a $4 million master plan that calls for a reconfigured outdoor amphitheatre that will provide for a safer and more comfortable concert atmosphere for park patrons.
The proposal also calls for Artpark's concert area to be surrounded by a fence. Concertgoers will likely have to obtain a ticket. Whether or not there is a cost affixed to that is uncertain. But, Brown said, the result will be smaller audiences.
"We're trying to aim for 10,000 to 12,000 for a concert," Brown said.
He told residents "we understand the impact" of this past summer's concerts, which were highlighted by back-to-back weeks of 30,000 in attendance (Lynyrd Skynyrd on July 26 and ZZ Top on Aug. 2). "We don't want to repeat that."
Though the crowd size might change, Brown said Artpark & Co.'s goal is to continue providing top-name acts. The venue has received Buffalo Place Magazine's "Best Outdoor Venue" award four consecutive years. Last summer's headliners included Peter Frampton, Pat Benatar, Cheap Trick and Creedence Clearwater Revisited.
Assemblyman John Ceretto called the public meeting following several complaints from residents in the wake of Artpark's record-breaking shows, and concerns expressed by the Village of Lewiston Board of Trustees about the effect of 30,000 people descending on the one-square-mile village in an evening.
"We're all here for the betterment of Artpark," Ceretto said. "We want to do better next year."
"We want to co-exist; we want to make our experience better," Brown said.
"We understand what you're saying. It's loud and clear," he added.
Read more about this in Saturday's Sentinel.