Changes are in store for the Twilight Concert Series (TCS) courtesy
of a one-year pilot program unanimously approved Tuesday night by the
Santa Monica City Council.
In its first public meeting of 2014, the council authorized several
key changes to the TCS in hopes to making the event safer for attendees.
The pilot program would also “reposition” the TCS this year in order to make the event more community-based.
All seven council members in attendance approved a scaled down TCS
for 2014, which would do away with the jumbotron for the event’s
attendees on the sand but maintain the speakers, allow for the stage
position to be altered or moved while mitigating sound impacts on local
residents, and give the City some flexibility with signage on the pier
in order to allow for more sponsorship opportunities.
City Manager Rod Gould made it clear Santa Monica has no intention to
scrap the TCS but instead is aiming addressing public safety concerns.
The goal, he said, would be to shrink the event’s footprint to ensure
public safety but still provide attendees with an entertaining
experience despite a scaled-back TCS.
“This is a 30-year tradition in Santa Monica,” Gould told council
members. “I want to make very clear … this is not about recommending
elimination of a beloved tradition. It is raising serious public safety
issues. What we’ve noticed in the past year or so is we are beginning to
attract large crowds, many larger than any had seen for years before.
Our goal is to right size this concert series over time without diluting
its quality (and) its impact.”
Gould pointed out the 10 concerts during the 2013 TCS averaged 15,000
people, with an estimated two-thirds of them congregating on the sand
surrounding the pier. The largest concerts drew anywhere between 20,000
and 30,000 attendees, Gould stated.
One recommendation made my Gould and City staff: have the TCS focus
on emerging talent instead of national or mainstream audience, therefore
not attracting crowds of 20,000 or 30,000.
“When it gets that size, we have very serious public safety
concerns,” Gould told council members. “We must make certain that our
police officers, our paramedics, our firefighters, (and) our harbor
guards are able to intercede in case of emergency rapidly and
effectively. When the crowds get that large, it becomes highly
Another issue rose by Gould: the event is growing as such where more
people enjoy the TCS from the beach instead of on the pier. If a
majority of attendees take in the TCS from the sand instead of on the
pier, Gould said the concert series would essentially become a beach
event, which is prohibited under City law.
“Staff feels very strongly that we need to move back toward the
original conception of the Twilight Concert Series and that it be
community-based, and on the pier,” Gould said. “Yes, there would still
be people on the beach, but the focus of the activity would be on the
pier and the marketing would be Santa Monica, Westside, local.”
Gould also suggested as part of a one-year pilot program the TCS not
include a jumbotron and speakers for those attending the event on the
sand. However, the council vote only did away with the jumbotron for
One side effect of making the TCS smaller in size: the Pier
Restoration Corp. (PRC), which oversees the annual concert series, would
have a more difficult time raising funds for the event. Accordingly,
the City would have to subsidize about $200,000 to the PRC keep the
Santa Monica Fire Chief Scott Ferguson and Santa Monica Police Chief
Jacqueline Seabrooks also addressed the council about the public safety
Ferguson told council members the pier was not designed to be a
concert venue, but the Santa Monica Fire Department would make certain
adaptations to ensure people can still enjoy the TCS.
Ferguson added the capacity load for the entire pier is about 8,000.
For the TCS, the Fire Marshall established an occupancy load of 4,742,
which allows for chairs and standing room. For standing room only
events, the occupancy load is set at about 6,000.
In addition to public safety, the configuration and layout of the
stage and surrounding vendors would also be altered, the City staff
Gap funding in the amount of $200,000 to the Pier Corporation is
recommended to mitigate some of the impacts of the framework. The City
would likely incur additional public safety costs, depending on the
scalable event plan.
The proposed pilot program also suggests TCS could focus more on
local or emerging talent instead of established artists of national or
“One way to bring locals to the pier and create a sense of community
is to create programming with a local interest,” City staff stated.
“Booking emerging local talent, rather than a performer with established
name recognition or a regional, national, or international fan base,
would reinforce the TCS as a community-based event and likely draw a
crowd that could mostly fit within the revised deck capacity. Targeting
marketing efforts to Santa Monica and Westside-based communities and
outlets would help draw people who live and work in the area.”
The estimated budget for the 2014 TCS is $400,000. City staff
anticipates the event would earn about $225,000 in sponsorship funding.
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