Former GO CR Executive Explains How NewBo Evolve Debacle Happened
It's been nearly three months now since NewBo Evolve lost $2.3 million. $1.5 million is still owed to vendors, acts, Cedar Rapids Police... the list is a long one. Go Cedar Rapids, the non-profit that organized the festival, has disbanded with no way to pay the remaining bills. Now, come comments from the organization's former Destination Development Director, Taylor McGurk and the man most-often blamed, Scott Tallman.
McGurk describes Scott Tallman, the man who put the event together, as "an eccentric delusional creative." However, Scott is not totally where he lays the blame. Meanwhile, Tallman has thoughts of his own.
In a Facebook post this morning, McGurk describes Scott Tallman, the former community events director of Go Cedar Rapids, as
an eccentric delusional creative (there are many creatives who are). He had zero experience creating a ticketed festival - let alone a mega festival. He didn't understand marketing, pricing, value engineering or our market. He thought spending thousands on trips to Europe to see a boy band was normal consumer behavior because that's what he does. So he created the only festival he could, one that aligned with his interests and his consumer behaviors with little regard for the market - that's the tone-deaf part.
Tallman isn't a bad person from out of town who set out (to) harm our city, he wasn't trying to cheat anyone but he is who (he) is and that's a person who can't believe the people of Cedar Rapids don't understand what a triumph evolve was. The leadership that pushed for his festival with all of their might, approved and continued to perpetuate the ridiculousness that it was...knew exactly what Tallman is. Yet for reasons I will never understand, gave him a $4m budget and said do YOUR thing. That is how this happened.
Tallman feels wronged. He told the Cedar Rapids Gazette,
I was hired to do a job and did it incredibly well, but all people want to do is talk about the money. Somebody somewhere needs to stop and say, ‘This is something great that happened and we need to acknowledge that.’ Cedar Rapids is full of an awful lot of Monday morning quarterbacks who want to point fingers and assign blame rather than look in the mirror.
I am proud of the work I did. I think it is time people of Cedar Rapids involved in this grow up and take a look in the mirror. The idea this is Scott’s folly is insane to me. Everyone participated in this. I love it how everyone is now running for the hills.
Tallman is right about two things, it isn't all his fault and everyone seems to be pointing the finger at him. He does say he looked into taking the event to the Doubletree Hotel complex, once it became apparent things weren't going well, in relation to ticket sales. He believes that could have saved up to $700,000. He was told to stick with the original plan.
In a Facebook post earlier this week, McGurk says,
Go Cedar Rapids will be remembered as a tone-deaf organization that harmed our community with a colossal failure of a festival. All things considered, that is exactly how the organization deserves to be remembered.
Yes, there are plenty of people to blame here, and the lack of oversight is still unforgivable. What's also a shame is that an organization that did so much good over the years is gone. In 2017 alone, Go Cedar Rapids played a role in booking seven NCAA Championships to be played in our city in the future. They're expected to bring in $3 million in spending.
Go Cedar Rapids was often in the news for doing good things. A series of colossal mistakes cost it everything, many others a lot of money, and our city and its citizens a lot of embarrassment. As McGurk says in his first post,
While the organization GO Cedar Rapids is no more and leaves behind a very tarnished legacy, we all need to make sure the movement doesn’t die. The movement never belonged to GO Cedar Rapids and the movement doesn’t need a name. The people of Linn County are the movement and it is critical that we all inspire one another to engage with our community in new ways and be ambassadors for civic pride.
Cedar Rapids is a resilient community full of do-ers who aren’t going to let one organization slow our astronomical momentum.
Yes, we will rise above. I'm not writing another story about this. I'm done looking back. It's time to move forward. It's time to again show the world Cedar Rapids is a great place. Let's start telling the good stories again. There are plenty of them out there.