The Hermosa Beach Summer Concerts will return in August after the Hermosa Beach City Council approved Tuesday night a contract for a new production and management company to take over the free event that attracts thousands yearly.
And, for the first time in the concert series history, beer might be sold.
By a 3-2 vote, the council approved a two-year contract with 5B Artists + Media, with an option to extend for another year.
Last October, Allen Sanford, producer of the summer concerts since 2010, announced he would leave the series to focus on the BeachLife Festival taking place in May in Redondo Beach.
5-B Artists + Media is a Culver City-based company that also has offices in New York and the United Kingdom and has ties to the beach cities.
“We see your enthusiasm, we see your professionalism, we see your ability to resource all sorts of great acts for Hermosa Beach,” said Mayor Stacey Armato, at the meeting. “We are really excited to partner with you guys.”
Cory Brennan, CEO and founder of 5B Artists + Media, which has been in business for 15 years and produces events around the world, moved with his family to the beach cities 10 years ago. He said “We're all about the community.”
“We know how to work with the city, we work with the community, local vendors, local restaurants, local figures, we’re great at booking talent,” Brennan said.
But Councilmembers Jeff Duclos, Justin Massey and Hany Fangary raised concerns about a potential beer garden.
5B has proposed selling beer on parking Lot A at the summer concerts, the same site for Fiesta Hermosa's beer garden on Memorial and Labor Day weekends.
Duclos and Massey voted no on approving the contract.
“We have issues with alcohol consumption in Hermosa Beach, it’s no secret,” said Massey, and asked Brennan if they could pull off the event without a beer garden.
Brennan replied “we can, of course,” but because they will take on all of the monetary responsibility through sponsorships, with no city funds to cover costs of the event, a beer garden would bring more revenue for a “bigger and better experience.”
“It's more about the experience tasting craft beers, tasting unique wines, than it is getting 36-ounce cups and drinking a beer,” Brennan said.
Duclos was concerned that the “drinks would migrate over the beach because we've seen that happen.”
Since the start of the summer concerts, Duclos said, they avoided sponsorships from beer companies and he hopes that continues with 5B. But he said “I understand that puts a lot of pressure on the producer of the event because sponsorships are not easy to come by.”
While the City Council still has approval of the live acts performing, Duclos wanted the rest of the plans to come back for council approval.
But in the contract, the producers will negotiate with the city staff, with final approval from the city manager and police chief. He felt approval should go beyond staff level.
“I want to know I have the comfort level that my staff is going to understand the culture that we're talking about, the issues we've had that have been engrained here in our city in terms of trying to keep alcohol off the beach and not to permit it, are very real,” Duclos said. “That issue was at hand from the very first time we produced the very first concert on the beach.”
Massey said that he “excited by 5B's capabilities” and optimistic that the event “will work out great.” He did not feel there was enough time to negotiate and come back to council.
“It's important we give clear direction that alcohol sponsorship and alcohol service associated with the event is not something we want staff to negotiate as part of the contract... they (5B) want to build a partnership and I think they will take that into account,” Massey said.
Duclos also raised the question of what entertainment 5B will bring to Hermosa Beach after visiting the company's website. Their talent roster features mostly rock, metal and punk. Brennan said 5B will work with KROQ in promoting the event.
“It occurred to me if a family showed up (to summer concerts), those children would have to instantly go to therapy,” joked Duclos.
Brennan said they will work with all genres and create a family-friendly event the city is requiring.
“I want to bring my daughter, she's 13, and bring her friends... we know what those boundaries are,” Brennan said.
Dates for the 2019 summer concerts are yet to be determined according to Community Resources Manager Kelly Orta.