The Leesburg town council decided July 24 to support a $4,300 fee waiver for the 1812 Bicentennial Concert, produced by Loudoun Symphony Orchestra and Journey Through Hallowed Ground, to hold the event at Ida Lee Park.
Ara Bagdasarian, President of the Loudoun Symphony Board of Directors, came before the council with a different request. “Today I am not asking for money. We are asking for a partnership with the town,” he said. That partnership would mean the town—instead of donating $5,000 to the event—would waive up to $4,300 in “soft costs” and fees for the LSO to use Ida Lee Park.
Council members voted 6-0, with Council Member David Butler on travel, to approve the fee waiver, citing key changes to the symphony’s request. First, moving the concert from its originally planned location of Morven Park to Ida Lee would place the event within town limits, drawing more attention to local businesses.
Secondly, Leesburg Vice Mayor Kevin Wright highlighted that the request did not directly ask for a donation like last meeting’s denied $5,000 request. Instead, LSO asked the town to waive fees “up to $4,300,” which meant “soft costs for town labor and other soft costs that may or may not result in a direct increase in the particular departments’ spending.”
“This type of support is not inconsistent for the type of support we do for Acoustics [on the Green],” Wright said.
Mayor Kristen Umstattd said that the concert organizers’ willingness to compromise “allays a lot of my concerns.” She praised the symphony for their skilled planning, saying, “They have gotten into news media in Europe and brought tourists over and I don’t think that could have happened [without the symphony].”
“Thank you … for your willingness to compromise,” Council Member Katie Hammler said.
“Let’s celebrate America together in the town of Leesburg,” Bagdasarian said. “You won’t see this request again in 100 years.”
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