Despite facing numerous obstacles from city officials, the ocean-side West Beach Music and Arts Festival will kick off the new school year with music and entertainment this weekend.
This year’s event has been scaled down from previous years to a two-day fair this Friday and Saturday, and will feature live performances from headliners including reggae group Rebelution and electronic music duo Pretty Lights. In addition to the live music performances, the weekend will feature a beer garden and gladiator-themed games.
Although the show will go on, problems with last year’s event drew criticism from city staff on the ability of its organizers to adequately regulate such a large gathering. According to Susan Jang-Bardick, Facilities and Special Events Supervisor for the city of Santa Barbara, the 2009 event failed to comply with some of the guidelines established by the city as a condition for their approval.
“We received a good deal of noise complaints and sound violations,” she said. “There was underage drinking and drug use in the venue, and there were some term conditions that they did not follow up with.”
According to Jang-Bardick, the sheer size of the event alone required city officials to scrutinize the possibility for its continuation.
“…The fact that it was a very large event brought it to the radar,” Jang-Bardick said. “I think the city realized there would need to be more public discussion to decide if the event should continue this year.”
According to Joshua Pemberton, event coordinator and co-founder of Twiin Productions, setup for the weekend has gone smoothly in spite of difficulties acquiring the necessary permits from the city council and staff.
“It has been an arduous process getting the permits and approval,” Pemberton said. “But the planning has been so thorough that the process has gone flawlessly for the setup.”
This year, organizations within the city have worked alongside Pemberton and his twin brother and fellow Twiin Productions co-founder, Jeremy, to ensure that the festival runs smoothly and up to standards.
Riley Harwood, sergeant and head of the Special Events Unit of the Santa Barbara Police Department, said the SBPD has been involved from the initial stages of the event production.
“We have been involved in the planning process from the very onset,” Harwood said. “The aspects of that planning process that particularly concern the police department are security issues, alcohol issues and [that] we also collaborate with other departments.”
In addition, Harwood said some of the concerns for this year’s festival regarded the need for adequate preparation time.
“There is definitely a great deal of preparation that has gone on, definitely more than in past years,” Harwood said. “The problem with it is that it has happened in a very compressed time frame.”
Despite time restraints, Pemberton said lessons learned from previous event have taught organizations throughout Santa Barbara how to adequately address the needs for its production.
“Every year there are things you learn and take with you from the experience,” Pemberton said. “Even just learning how to prevent and prepare things ahead of time to better coordinate this year’s event.”
Pemberton also noted that he anticipates the event will sell out for both days of the festival.
“The ticket sales have definitely increased over the week,” Pemberton said. “We expect to reach full capacity.”