Minutes detail newbo evolve concerns, misrepresentations

By Dave DeWitte

GO Cedar Rapids’ board of directors this week released a year of meeting minutes that underscore the board had budgetary concerns about the newbo evolve festival, which lost $2.3 million over the weekend of Aug. 3-5, and back up statements made last week that the recently terminated CEO and events director of the group exaggerated the event’s financial prospects.

“In the last week and a half ticket sales have spiked,” the July 18 meeting minutes said, paraphrasing a report to the board. Mr. McCreight was the only senior staff member listed in attendance. “The passes are moving slowly but the concerts are climbing. Maroon 5 is at 9,000 and Kelly Clarkson is at 6,000. We need the board members to talk to people about how great this is for the community and ask people to buy tickets.”

On March 27, the board was told that sponsorships secured for the event were nearing $300,000, when in fact the actual amount raised was $260,000. However the staff reported on May 16 that “cash flow is still an issue, as we had originally budgeted to have a lot more passes sold at this point which isn’t the case.” The minutes said Board Chair John Myers and Treasurer Seth Wear were keeping a close eye on cash flow, adding “The budget has been reduced and we are getting to what is more realistic for future planning.”

Minutes also indicate that GO Cedar Rapids staff last spring terminated a public relations agency that it didn’t feel was supporting the event property and hired a more expensive agency that it felt would do a better job.

CEO Aaron McCreight and Director of Community Events Scott Tallman were dismissed after the scope of the loss on the event, which was roughly three times the amount the board expected it to lose, came to light this month. The organization announced the hiring of Jim Haddad, former Yellowbook CFO, as interm CEO on Monday.

Large portions of the minutes were redacted, which the board said was done to protect confidentiality of specific contractual matters. As a non-governmental organization, GO Cedar Rapids says it isn’t legally required to release minutes, but did so to increase transparency.