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InCuya Music Festival: We’re bullish on Cleveland, says AEG Presents

August 19, 2018

InCuya Music Festival: We’re bullish on Cleveland, says AEG Presents

CLEVELAND, Ohio – When the crowd roars as the Juno-winning Canadian rockers the Arkells grind out the first chords of the inaugural InCuya Music Festival at 1 p.m. Saturday, Joe Litvag probably will be both anxious and assured.

That’s because Litvag, a senior vice president of the nation’s No. 2 concert promoter, AEG Presents, has had experience with putting together music festivals. A LOT of experience, and a LOT of festivals. Thirty in the United States alone, including Coachella, Stagecoach, Rock on the Range and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

“It’s a huge help,″ said Litvag, calling from his St. Louis office to talk about the festival that will be on Malls B and C in downtown Cleveland on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 25 and 26. AEG has lent a lot of its expertise to festival organizers the Cleveland Concert Company, and fellow sponsors and participants Destination Cleveland, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and, of course, the city itself.

“We’ve been doing festivals for over 20 years, so our whole team has got a wealth of knowledge and experience,″ Litvag said. “We take our learnings to every event we do.″

Moreover, each event is seen as a chance to expand on that knowledge, he said.

“We learn something new every year, and the day we stop learning is the day we should retire,″ Litvag said.

That’s why the AEG plans things down to the minutest detail – because details are important.

“I haven’t seen the exact number yet, but there’s a very specific calculation of port-a-potties per attendee [and] the number of concession stands,″ he said.

“That’s what [Cleveland Concert Company] brought us in to do – to run point on all these elements,″ he said. “They recognize that we’re experts at it.″

But that doesn’t mean this is a St. Louis-based national operation, not completely.

“It’ll be a combination,″ Litvag said. “When you work at securing equipment vendors, we get quotes from local companies and a good number of national companies. It’s typical to get two, three, four bids for any item.

“Using local vendors is very important, to us and to Cleveland Concert Company, but at the same time, a lot of national companies have offices in Ohio,″ he said. “We’re in the process now of finalizing all those bids.″

Overseeing it all will be Cleveland-based Spindrift Management Group, under the direction of founder and Cleveland native Brian Horsburgh. Through Horsburgh, the company has connections to events ranging from the Brite Winter Festival to World Cup soccer to the Cavaliers″ NBA championship parade in 2016.

“He knows all the players, and he’s boots on the ground,″ said Litvag of Horsburgh. “He’s a well-respected event producer there in Cleveland, and there’s a comfort level with the city because they work with him on a lot of other outdoor events.”

Additionally, Litvag expected that “hundreds and hundreds″ of Clevelanders would be hired to work the festival.

“I don’t have exact numbers, but think about all the stage labor, casual site labor, the security force, the box office personnel, the cleanup crews and off-duty police officers,″ he said.

Parking is always an issue in Cleveland during an event of this magnitude. Think of the $40 or more fees for lots during the Cavs’ playoff run, or the Indians’ Opening Day.

“Public transportation is something we’re promoting heavily, as well as people biking to the site,″ Litvag said. “There will be some controlled parking at the festival, but it’s a major downtown event. And we’re also partnering with the rideshare companies, so we’ll have Uber and Lyft pickup and drop-off locations.″

The InCuya Music Festival is just the latest involvement in the Cleveland music scene for AEG Presents, and Litvag is hopeful that this is not a one-and-done thing.

“I think that’s going to be a joint discussion between us and Triple C [Cleveland Concert Company],″ he said. “These things take a few years to develop. It doesn’t necessarily happen in the first year completely. You have to grow it organically.″

But he remains optimistic.

“I like to think that if we pull it off in a great way and everyone there has a great time, we can grow it in 2019,″ Litvag said.

“Listen, I think it shows that we’re feeling very positive about the Cleveland marketplace,″ he said, citing AEG’s purchase of the Agora, its multimillion-dollar investment in it and taking over operations there.

“We started doing shows at the theaters and Agora four or five years ago, testing the waters a little, and now we are bullish on the marketplace,″ Litvag said.

“InCuya is another great way to experience live music outdoors, and [summer] is such a great time to be outside in a place like Cleveland, when you’re right on the lake,″ he said. “That’s part of the reason why we decided InCuya was the right thing to do.

“It says a lot about Cleveland, the city.″

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