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A new music festival will get Something in the Water’s April weekend; Pharrell eyes October

Photo by Mechelle Hankerson

A new music festival may move to the weekend previously held for Something in the Water while Something in the Water jumps to an October weekend.

Audacy Virginia’s event will take place the last weekend of April. Organizers haven’t yet announced details about performers, logistics or ticket prices.

Audacy is a broadcasting company and online radio platform known for putting on a number of festivals around the country that feature artists including Muse, Machine Gun Kelly, Florence and the Machine and The 1975.

They asked for city sponsorship in August to host a festival in October. After the city committed $750,000, officials canceled the event in September, saying it couldn’t be put on safely with so little time to prepare. No artist lineup was ever announced.

The city is giving that same $750,000 earmarked for the October festival to Audacy, and in return Audacy will give the festival $750,000 worth of national advertising and commit $1.5 million to promote it.

“It's an opportunity for us to promote Virginia Beach as a destination,” said Nancy Helman, the city’s director of its Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Audacy is taking the weekend previously occupied by the Something in the Water festival, which appears to be eyeing an October date, according to city documents.

A fall date could help cut down on weather disruptions, which have interrupted Something in the Water programming both years it was held in Virginia Beach.

The city has struggled to keep the major festivals and events that used to define its tourism season.

As organizers went elsewhere or canceled events, the city faced criticism for its willingness to front money for those events.

The Patriotic Festival was held at the Oceanfront for 17 years before it decamped to Norfolk in 2021.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon also left Virginia Beach in 2021 after two decades, citing shrinking registration numbers in Virginia Beach.

Unlike Audacy, the Jackalope extreme sports festival and Bulls and Barrels Beach Rodeo both took place, but lost the city money. Jackalope got a $1 million boost from the city but according to an economic impact study only made between 47 and 53 cents per dollar spent.

The country music fest Beach It! didn’t get the $1.5 million in incentives it was promised because it didn’t generate the required tax revenue — the city gave it $350,000 to match what it did make.

City Manager Patrick Duhaney told the City Council he wasn’t sure whether Audacy’s new festival would make the city money either.

“I can't necessarily say that this one would earn a return for investment. I certainly think that's the hope,” he said.

Virginia Beach created a task force examining how the city decides which festivals get funding.

The 17-person panel will develop a formal process to consider and approve funding requests.

The world changes fast.

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