Fort Reno Summer Concert Series in Trouble Again this Year

Photo by PoPville flickr user yostinator

“Dear PoPville,

Is the Fort Reno concert series coming back this summer? I haven’t been able to find any information on a 2015 lineup. It would be a bummer if it didn’t happen this year, especially after it was almost cancelled last year but saved by popular demand. Thanks!”

From Fort Reno’s concert series website:

“What we’ve got

21 bands who want to play
folks eager to volunteer to make it happen

What we don’t have

a permit from National Park Service
money to make it happen

What we need

Last year’s change in procedure from the National Park Service and U.S. Park Police EMPTIED (and then some) our piggy bank.

NPS and USPP have informed me that once again we will have to pay for police presence. I shudder at having to write that because it makes the concert series appear like an unsafe environment – something it definitely is not. I had hoped that our peaceful series in 2014 would have changed minds, or that I could – but alas, here we are.

This all being said, please GIVE WHAT YOU CAN to help us have another summer of music in the park.

You can use our fiscal sponsor The Washington Peace Center’s PayPal and indicate that the donation is for the Fort Reno Concert Series.

Donate Here

25 Comment

  • How much do they need to raise? I didn’t see a target amount…

  • Is there any way control can be wrested from Amanda MacKaye on this? I love the Fort Reno concert series, but why does it have to operate under crisis mode EVERY YEAR?

    • +1. I love the concerts and donate most years, but this literally never changes. Every year it’s the same catastrophic warning that if they don’t raise enough money, the series won’t happen. There’s usually some complaint about a policy change that made things harder for them, and I’d have to go check the waybackmachine to even determine how this complaint has changed over time (I feel like they forgot to even modify it from last year).
      donors deserve:
      * tiered fundraising goals (X amount and the series is on, Y amount and we get concerts in August)
      * some feedback on money raised so far

      • “Every year it’s the same catastrophic warning”.. Every year? How about this year and the last. The Ft Reno summer series has existed for decades, going back to at least before the 1970s….

  • The organizers are apparently so disorganized that it’s a miracle it ever gets off the ground.

    • Agreed. I’m glad that it gets put together, but yeesh. Amanda seems like one of those people that ignore all the electric bills that come in and screams “No one told me! This is unfair!” when the power gets turned off.

  • It’s hard to believe that the organizers of this historic concert series can’t find a “corporate” sponsor for it. Or would that be considered “selling out”?

    • I think that context is very important. The organizer, Amanda MacKaye, is an organizer for Positive Force. She is also the sister of Ian MacKaye, the singer of Fugazi and Minor Threat, who have been mainstays (nay, inventors of) DC punk and hardcore since the early 80s. According to Wikipedia, “Fugazi are noted for their DIY ethical stance, manner of business practice,[1] and contempt towards the music industry.[2]”

      It’s not that the organizers “can’t,” it just literally flies in the face of basically everything they believe in and have worked for in Washington DC for the past thirty years.

      • Even if the sponsors fit some rigid criteria? DC-based, oriented towards the social good, hands-off on band decisions?

        • I believe the real problem here is that the decision to add police is up to basically one person’s opinion at NPS.

          “In the event that the NPS determines that it is necessary, a Permittee shall provide funds… to cover costs incurred when NPS employees are required to work for event monitoring, for any needed site restoration following the event, and any other costs resulting from the special event.”

          It wasn’t an issue in 2013, but it was in 2014 and 2015. Seems like some individual there changed their mind after 30 years. Even raising money for a good cause is capitulating to the whims of some bureaucrat. Personally, I think it’s worth it (I’ve donated, and would again) but I can see why DC punks would chafe at it.

          It’s all covered here in this article from last year’s debacle.

          • It’s an interesting article. Pretty absurd that the whole series was almost cancelled last year because of $2600. Given that pretty paltry amount, it’s even harder to understand why some acceptable “corporate” sponsor couldn’t be located.
            I understand the “we don’t want police killing the vibe” argument. It’s a great rationale until something goes wrong and you need the police.

          • Given that this event draws thousands of people (over the course of the summer) to a park after dark, I think it is certainly within the rights of NPS to require security. However, I don’t think this should come as a surprise given that the security requirement was the reason for last year’s panicky cancellation. Given that they capitulated in 2014, why would they think this year would be any different?

      • Maybe they can all ask their mamas for the money. That was also a big part of the DC punk and hardcore ethos.

        • Lol, I laugh because it’s true. It’s easy to push the “DIY” ethos when a lot of these bands came from the wealthiest parts of Upper NW and MD.
          Meanwhile, Bad Brains members have struggled with homelessness over the years (they were waaaaaay better and more influential than the Dischord stuff)

        • Henry Rollins should pick up a few shifts at Baskin Robbins and cover them.

    • Yeah, what Major Threat said.

  • Yes, it is time for someone else to take this over.

  • You folks are being a little harsh. My experiences dealing with NPS and USPP for construction permits, special event permits and police service has been a hilarious exercise in bureaucracy and red tape. I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if these organizers are being told they need different forms, dollar amounts, processes and deadlines each time they speak with some at NPS.

    • I wouldn’t be surprised, either. But, given the lack of transparency and the fact that they always manage to squeak through with a concert series after crying disaster, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were pocketing some excesses each year either. Or generally not tracking effectively.

      • Accountering

        This is a HUGE jump from incompetence to fraud… Do you have anything whatsoever to base this on? Or do you just go around accusing random people you have never met of being thiefs?

    • I don’t plus generally, but this is so spot on. I helped out a bit last summer to get the damn thing going and the service seemingly moved the goal posts back when they tried to obtain the permits. You have to talk to x first, or its actually this much $ now, or you need x amount of private security. I find it amazing the same folks who rightfully complaint that they had to jump through 100 hoops to put a god damn deck on their house could find only fault in the organizers for falling to obtain the necessary permits in a timely and cost effective manner. Oh, +1.

  • Most of you have no idea what you are talking about. Putting this together is a real pain in the ass and I’m sure that the Mackaye Family eats some of the cost every year. They reach crisis mode because the Park Service can be exceedingly difficult to work with and are known to “move the goalposts” so that one is never really sure what they need to do to pull something like this off.

  • are we really stuck with fort reno? there are several city parks and church grounds that could and probly would host the event with less hassle. I think it’s important to show nps that this event can walk away from them and their petty moneygrubbing. it may give a bit more pull next year. most annoying is that nps will let another bland jazz event go on without having to pay tribute but local alt music gets stuck with a bill. I think more innovative solutions are at hand that will have better long term results. if the NSO can sponsor public radio than nps could be a better neighbor.

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