More Scrutiny For Music Festival Accord

OCEAN CITY – The city is looking to tighten the language on the memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the inaugural Jellyfish Music Festival to ensure the town’s investment is going toward securing major acts.

The Recreation and Parks Committee on Tuesday reviewed the MOU approved by the Mayor and Council in August for the inaugural Jellyfish Music Festival, a town-wide live entertainment festival combined with action sports, family-oriented interactive entertainment and arts and culture. The festival will utilize the town’s best assets including a state-of-the art stage on the beach downtown featuring big-time national acts along with other smaller concert venues and other activities on the beach and at the Ocean Bowl skatepark, for example.

From the beginning, the committee, and later the Mayor and Council, has sought assurances through the MOU that the town’s $198,000 investment in the Jellyfish Music Festival next June, is being dedicated to bringing some of the promised headline acts expected to highlight the event.

The event is being put together by a trio of producers with a for putting together major special events in the resort and beyond. The team is spearheaded by Hoffman and Endless Summer Surf Shop owner and CEO Joe “Salty” Selthoffer. Perhaps the key addition to the impressive Jellyfish Festival production team is Brian Gilpin, whose Illusion Sound and Lighting company has produced major concert events featuring some of the top acts in the country and beyond with state-of-the-art digital concert boards, stages and sound systems with multi-venue capabilities.

The recreation and parks committee on Tuesday reviewed the MOU to make sure the language in the document spells out each parties’ responsibilities. Committee member and Councilman Wayne Hartman said the document as written does not appear to make that clear. He suggested removing the word “all” from a section of the document to help ensure it does not cap the budget limitations for securing top acts at the town’s $198,000 investment.

“I think using the word ‘all’ encourages them to keep the budget for entertainers and $198,000 and maybe not put in more of their money,” he said. “I just hope they’re not limiting themselves to $198,000 for entertainment.”

Special Events Director Frank Miller said he, along with Tourism Director Donna Miller, were keenly aware of the council’s desire regarding the MOU. Miller also said the Jellyfish Music Festival is a unique event for Ocean City and there was little or no precedent in terms of how to structure the MOU.

“We’ve never done anything like this in town,” he said. “There really is nothing historical to base it on.”

Hartman continued to push for stringent language in the MOU that carefully spells out how the town’s $198,000 investment can be utilized by the producers.

“That’s a concern that was raised at the council level,” he said. “There doesn’t seem to be anything in there that protects us. We can’t let somebody else spend our $198,000 without some oversight on that.”

Miller said it was understood the town’s investment would be dedicated to securing top entertainment for the event, but added there could be contingencies or special requests made by some headliners for which a portion of the town’s funding could be used.

“If one of the higher-end entertainers comes in and requests this or that on stage and their basic setup doesn’t include it, that could come out of this funding,” he said.

Hartman said, “That’s fine as long as it’s reasonable. We just need somebody knowledgeable to monitor that.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

Alternative Text

Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.