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Decision looms on fate of InCuya Music Festival; AEG shakeup not a factor

September 25, 2018

Decision looms on fate of InCuya Music Festival; AEG shakeup not a factor

CLEVELAND, Ohio - A reshuffle in upper management at global concert promoter AEG Presents will have no impact on whether there is – or is not – a Year Two for the InCuya Music Festival.

Joe Litvag, a St. Louis-based senior vice president for AEG Presents and the primary force in the company’s presence in the festival that took over Malls B and C in downtown Cleveland for two days this past summer, was shunted out of his role with the company on Monday. Litvag, who during the festival expressed strong support for the InCuya Music Festival, could not be reached to comment for this story.

Sunny Nixon, who chairs the board for the InCuya founders who comprise the Cleveland Concert Co., said the partnership with a particular promoter will not be a factor in any decision on whether to move forward with a second year for the festival. Previously, festival organizers spoke of a “three-year plan” for it to continue. Or not.

InCuya Music Festival: Keep calm and watch it grow.

There has been some concern that AEG Presents might pull out of the InCuya event as it has opted to bail as a partner in the well-attended, Columbus-based Rock on the Range. That event now will be handled solely by California-based Danny Wimmer Productions, and has been renamed the Sonic Temple.

But AEG Presents’ chief operating officer, California-based Shawn Trell, appeared to come down on the side of continuing his company’s role with InCuya, if indeed the festival moves forward.

“Yes, we are bullish [on Cleveland],″ Trell said in an email to The Plain Dealer. “In the last year, I have purchased the Agora, spent over $3 million renovating it, and we produced the first year of a new festival and look forward to Year Two.”

Chris Zitterbart, who runs the Agora for AEG, also sees the reshuffling as a plus.

“The AEG realignment put very talented people in key positions in our region,″ said Zitterbart in an email.  “Obviously Joe [Litvag] is a talented industry professional with a lot of experience. He has done a lot of great things in his time at AEG.″

“As part of the shakeup, Jason Rogalewski and Mike Ducharme have been promoted to regional vice presidents for AEG Presents,″ ampthemag.com reported on the shift that was announced internally Monday.

“Jason will focus on the territory including Detroit, Cleveland and Milwaukee. Mike will be responsible for managing AEG’s business in Nashville, St. Louis and Kansas City,″ the site said.

“I think the realignment focuses more resources on us and will strengthen our business here in Cleveland,″ Zitterbart said.

That could easily include a continuation of the InCuya Music Festival.

“For Year One, it did go well,″ said Rock & Roll Hall of Fame President and CEO Greg Harris, whose organization lent its name and facilities to the festival, but had no financial stake in it other than a potential to gain in the long run.

“These things always operate at a loss a few times before sailing,″ said Harris, who stressed that he did not have access to the financials for the event, so he could not speak as to whether the festival actually made money.

“We don’t have a financial investment, but we’ve given a lot to the festival in value – our staff time, all our marketing resources, the use of our name and the use of our facility for the kickoff party,″ Harris said.

“It’s accurate to say we didn’t directly invest cash, but we did provide stuff of value,″ he said.

Triple C’s Nixon said any decision on a continuation of the festival would be made by the board after examining those financial statements.

“The final accounting wasn’t done until recently,″ she said. “The Joe thing had nothing to do with the fact that we hadn’t met.″

Factors like the “crazy busy″ schedule of board members such as Indians owner Paul Dolan, plus the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur made scheduling the board meeting difficult. Nixon said she expects it to be held in early October – “We don’t want to have to compete with the World Series″ – with the ultimate decision coming down in early fall.

“I want nothing more than for this thing to continue,″ she said.

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