'Bands' principals reduce tax fund request
December 8, 2021
The principals for “Bands of Enchantment” reduced their request for city lodgers tax funds from $300,000 to $200,000 to produce a second season of the music television show in Tucumcari next year.
Elkhorn Entertainment principals Ken C. Peterson and Tyson Chavez, the latter citing “encouraging” talks with an unnamed national advertiser being a possible sponsor, made the revised request via videoconference during the lodgers tax advisory board’s meeting Wednesday.
The show shot at various locations last spring in Tucumcari, including in the railroad depot and Tucumcari Zia Club. It featured nationally known acts and a few New Mexico-based musicians.
The city gave $120,000 earlier this year to help pay for production for 10 half-hour episodes for the show’s first season. “Bands of Enchantment” aired on PBS stations in New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle and is being distributed nationwide to PBS stations via broadcast and online and via Amazon Prime-associated online platforms.
City Manager Mark Martinez wouldn’t commit to recommending $200,000 but noted it’s “not out of reach” for lodgers tax finances.
“I’d like to see that come a little bit lower,” Martinez said. “But I don’t want to see this go away. Negotiations need to continue. I’d still like to see it happen.”
Martinez said later he holds “a number I have in mind” for the lodgers tax fund request, and he and the Elkhorn principals would “continue to chip away on it.”
Board member Al Patel and Chairman Matt Bednorz signaled that were more amenable to Elkhorn’s revised request.
“I would like to see a follow-through” on the television program, Patel said.
Elkhorn earlier this fall requested $300,000 in lodgers tax funds, but that proved too rich for Martinez and board members despite their voiced enthusiasm for the show and its production values. The initial request would have been nearly half of annual lodgers tax revenue.
Peterson said the deadline for first refusal for the second season to be based in Tucumcari has passed and Elkhorn can look elsewhere in New Mexico for the production, though he said he preferred it to remain here.
Chavez said the national sponsor is not finalized, though he acknowledged the shooting dates originally scheduled for spring 2022 may change and that “Bands of Enchantment” may land more nationally known acts if that deal is signed.
Peterson and Chavez also said they want to eventually organize a music festival in Tucumcari that would crowd the city’s motels and restaurants for several days.
“We’d like it to be bigger and better” in Tucumcari, Peterson said.
Peterson said “Bands of Enchantment” airings are extending to PBS stations across the U.S. starting in January, including markets in Chicago, Dallas, Denver, San Francisco, Memphis, Fresno, Tucson and New York City. Along with PBS’ streaming app, the show could reach a potential audience of 85 million people.
Chavez said the show also is streaming on several outlets on Amazon Prime, including IMDB TV. The total reach of those streaming platforms is more than 270 million people.
Martinez praised Elkhorn for giving the city “more bang for the buck” with its initial investment. Elkhorn produced 10 episodes instead of the previously planned eight. It also found more PBS stations to air the program and more streaming platforms with a larger reach than the initially planned RFD-TV.
In other business by the board:
• Martinez said he likely would direct city crews to clean up derelict commercial properties, now that they have more time during the winter months when parks don’t require as much maintenance.
He said he will bill the commercial property owners for the work done.
Martinez signaled he would be more aggressive with violators of the nuisance ordinance after a municipal judge is seated. He said he in particular would target “eyesore” commercial properties, especially the closed, weed-choked KFC restaurant on First Street.
Martinez said he wasn’t worried about city workers being on those nuisance commercial properties.
“If they’re not responding to our letters (about the nuisance), they’re not going to care if we come on their property,” he said.
He said the City of Gallup has a “clean and lien” program for problem properties, but it doesn’t expect to recover those funds.
“We need to step up and do something, or else no one’s going to do it,” Martinez said.
• The board set a 9 a.m. Jan. 5 work session before its regular meeting that day to discuss parameters for future funding requests for festivals and other events.
Bednorz said he was inclined to have event organizers submit their funding applications by Feb. 25, before the board makes its final recommendations at its March meeting to the city commission.
Bednorz said the board also needs to discuss on how to handle funding if an event is canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s not fair for the taxpayers to pay something they don’t receive,” he said. “We need to support these events, but we need to support the taxpayers, as well.”
Bednorz also noted organizers for the Rattler Reunion and Fired-Up Fridays did not submit their follow-up reports within 90 days as required.
• Martinez said a first draft has been completed of a Tucumcari profile that will be presented next month at an American Bus Association Marketplace event in Texas. Tucumcari/Quay County Chamber of Commerce Director Scott Crotzer will represent the city in its efforts to woo more tour buses in 2022 and 2023.
• Martinez said a Tucumcari visitor’s guide will be completed by spring after its information is edited. Alamogordo-based Leighton Moon also recently designed a new tourism rack card.
• Martinez praised Crotzer’s renovations to the chamber office, including a new sign, repainted exterior and a neon Route 66 shield. He said the chamber office soon will have its flooring revamped into polished concrete, with a Route 66 stencil on it.
• Martinez said the floor renovations and leaks to the Tucumcari Convention Center should be finished by early January. Because of the work, he said the city’s annual employee appreciation meal in December would be rescheduled.