" If Santa Feans are truly upset with the current city night life...they have to help create it themselves"
What is usually a low-key meeting for the Occupancy Tax Advisory Board (OTAB) turned into a big event late last month after a Facebook group created by local musicians and music enthusiasts called for a bigger focus on Santa Fe's night life and music scene.
On the Facebook page group, co-founder RJ Laino strived to keep commenters focused by introducing the groups seven-point plan to improve night life, including shuttle systems, internal branding and music festivals. Laino joined more than 60 musicians and music enthusiasts who attended the meeting to voice their concern.
“People were venting about promoters who won't pay, venues that won't pay, audiences who won't show up," said Shannon Murphy, founder of the successful AHA music festival, who attended the OTAB meeting. Even though I agree all those things are frustrating, I realize OTAB's mission is to bring tourism to Santa Fe," Murphy says.
In the Santa Fe area right now there are 48 music promoters and most venues can house 100-200 people. There are two small colleges and the actual population of Santa Fe consists of only about 68,000. That makes Santa Fe one of the smallest markets in the Southwest. However, as illustrated by the success of September's AHA Festival, bands are still willing to come to Santa Fe.
It would appear that music festivals are the best way to revitalize the Santa Fe music scene while also meeting the original edict of OTAB in bring more tourism to the city. “OTAB needs to give event organizers money for advertising and event production,” says Murphy. “But, if smaller venues are to become successful they need to do it without OTAB funding.”
OTAB works with an $8 million budget annually. Most of that money goes to advertising to cities across the country and to different parts of the world. Only about 10 percent of the money goes to advertising within Santa Fe.
“What I've always been surprised by is that how many people have no idea what is going on. People will just glance at Facebook, look over The Reporter and create a narrative that nothing is happening,” Murphy said.
Ultimately, OTAB can only do so much to revitalize the music scene. If Santa Feans are truly upset with the current city night life, they simply have to look a little closer. Or help create it themselves.