Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Prepared Statement from BeachGlow: Concerts for Charity in Regard to BeachGlow Music Festival 2015 in Wildwood on July 4


EDITORIAL NOTE:

To follow up on previous posts, the following is the full text of a statement to be read at today's Wildwood Commissioners Meeting by Heather Kunkel, representative for BeachGlow: Concerts for Charity, in response to a letter written last week by Will & Jack Morey of the Morey Organization.

While our primary mission at Wildwood 365 is to share and celebrate the positive aspects of and news about our island, we feel that certain matters of community interest are essential to report on.

An event the scale of BeachGlow falls into that category, and thus, we believe it is important to give  "equal time" without taking sides.

With that said, here is the statement sent to us today from BeachGlow...

- Al Alven

***************

-- To be read by Heather Kunkel at Wildwood Town Meeting, Jan. 28, 2015 

Good afternoon. As an executive vice president of BeachGlow: Concerts for Charity, and as the mother of its CEO and founder, I want to thank the City of Wildwood for the opportunity to tell you all about our unique organization and to correct a number of inaccuracies and insinuations that have been circulating recently in letters from the Morey Organization and then reported in the media.

BeachGlow: Concerts for Charity was the inspiration of a 16-year-old high school student who wanted to combine his passion as a developing deejay artist with his desire to help others.  Now 19 and a sophomore at The College of William & Mary, my son Dane Kunkel realizes his dream every day as he creates and produces an annual music festival that showcases and raises funds for worthwhile charities, targeting those that benefit today’s youth.  

This dream has become a family enterprise. And our family, which includes my husband Gerard and our 24-year old daughter Brittany, has been joined by a volunteer staff that shares our values and standards, as well as our commitment to help others. Many on our staff vacation with their families here in Wildwood.

Let me underscore one point: When we say BeachGlow is a volunteer organization, we mean 100 percent volunteer. Since its founding, BeachGlow has never paid salary or compensation to anyone. None of us earns a dime—the proceeds from our annual festival are given to a selected charity or maintained as operating funds to launch our next event.  Last year we were proud to present the American Red Cross with $40,000 in recognition of the support it provided to the Jersey Shore in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. 

The BeachGlow staff all have full-time jobs or are in college full-time.  We spend our free time doing this because we passionately care about our causes and the importance of giving back.  We are totally transparent and are proud of the professional and remarkably clean way we run our organization. That is why recent reports in the media have been very upsetting to us at BeachGlow. 

Now we will respond to allegations made by the Morey Organization about BeachGlow in its verbal and written communications, resulting in this unfair portrayal of our organization.

1. The Morey Organization states that EDM concerts are synonymous with - and notorious for - alcohol abuse and the use of illegal party drugs, which have resulted in deaths and overdoses at a number of EDM concerts. The Moreys insinuate that BeachGlow is no different. 

This couldn’t be further from the truth. BeachGlow is unique in the EDM scene, and part of our mission at BeachGlow is to try to turn that stereotype around and set an example for others to follow. We work closely with the City officials of Wildwood to meet or exceed the standards employed when gathering a large audience, and when serving beer.  We invite you to speak with those individuals who have been involved in reviewing our plans, and those who serve and protect the City of Wildwood. At our events, everyone entering the perimeter is screened, and we enforce a zero tolerance policy for drugs and underage drinking, both at the gate, and inside our event.  We hire professional security, our own volunteer spotters, and we allow unfettered access to Police, EMS, and other City officials.  

2. The Morey Organization questions whether BeachGlow has the experience to manage an event of this magnitude. 

We received rave reviews after last year’s event from City officials, festival-goers, our sound and lighting company, vendors, artists’ agents – everyone praised us for our professionalism and many went so far as to say our event went much more smoothly than other events they had experienced.  The reason that we have only one event per year is that we put all of our energy into this single charitable fundraising festival to make it as successful as possible. Scaling to the 10,000+ goal that we have for attendees at this year’s event can and will be managed with the utmost professionalism. Not only does BeachGlow hire a professional security force and work closely with the City of Wildwood Police to create an appropriate plan, we turn to an independent crowd management and safety consultant to have plans reviewed, and to gain additional insights. 

3. The Morey Organization states that there were 37 arrests at the BeachGlow event, including a drug overdose. 

We have been unable to find evidence to support this claim, and have requested data from the City of Wildwood to compare and contrast our event to other events that take place in Wildwood to better understand the extent of the social impact on the City. In the meantime, as recently stated in the press by Wildwood’s Mayor Ernie Troiano, there were 22 recorded incidents involving drugs or alcohol and one arrest in the City of Wildwood on July 5, 2014.  (And, we question how many of these are a direct result of our event.) To quote Mayor Troiano in a recent press interview, “If you put 10,000 kids or anybody in one place, you will have incidents. There were no arrests for fighting or disorderly [conduct].”   We at BeachGlow are proud of the way we run our organization and have confidence in what we will find when we have the opportunity to review the facts. The BeachGlow team, including local Wildwood volunteer adults and undercover police, checked IDs prior to admitting anyone into the festival’s fenced-in, secure Beer Garden.  Anyone presenting false ID was properly dealt with – including the confiscation of the fake ID.  BeachGlow limited alcohol to beer, and we were thrilled to give the local Wildwood Volunteer Fire Department the opportunity to responsibly serve beer, and earn money, which ultimately benefits the community.  

4. The Morey Organization states that the City of Wildwood has failed to provide documentation of paid services provided to BeachGlow, as well as the authenticity of BeachGlow’s charitable contribution, implying that perhaps we have something to hide. 

For the record, BeachGlow paid all of its City expenses promptly (within days of the event), and has no outstanding obligation to the City.  As for proof of BeachGlow’s charitable $40,000 contribution, we state for public record, and you are welcome to verify this fact with the American Red Cross, that we issued three checks to the ARC as follows:  Check #1009 for $3,192.00 on June 12, 2014; Check #1036 for the amount of $28,908.00 on July 9, 2014; and Check #1043 on July 18, 2014, for the amount of $7,900.00.  The total amount was more than the $32,000 we had originally projected to donate to the Red Cross because we wanted to give as much as possible.  We increased our donation with this last check for $7,900.00 to create a $40,000 total donation.

5. The Morey Organization questions BeachGlow’s 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status as a public charity. 

While we are forwarding copies of these documents to the Moreys, as requested, we also are posting this information on our website, and are providing you this link:  www.BeachGlow.org/about.  We request that you not only review these documents, but that you take a close look at BeachGlow’s mission.

6. The Morey Organization complains about the utterance of foul language at the BeachGlow event. 

BeachGlow, being an outdoor event with a public address system, must deal with performers who may use foul language. All media outlets and public events face this challenge, and deal with it through policy and enforcement.  The Moreys carefully monitored and recorded our event, to listen for evidence of foul language. In a letter to the City of Wildwood on July 7, 2014, the Moreys stated that there were 20 utterances of foul language at our 2014 event.  These 20 curse words were uttered either in song or by performer during the course of nine hours. This means that there were approximately two curse words uttered per hour at an event of 7,000 attendees.  We produced BeachGlow 2014 with a foul language policy, and we did enforce it. We agree that zero is the acceptable number, and we are instituting a much stricter language policy for the 2015 event – and will be pulling the plug on any performers who do not conform to that policy.  Each artist will sign a rider to his contract to ensure that he is aware and recognizes that we will enforce this policy.

Let me wrap up with just a couple of comments about what we hope BeachGlow can mean to Wildwood. Everyone in this room understands that Wildwood and its beaches are unique, not just along the Jersey shore, but along the entire East Coast, and across this country. 
But we believe — and I think you'll agree — that a world-class beach destination is more than sun, sand and surf.  

Here, you not only have a fantastic beach, you have the world-famous Wildwood Boardwalk.  You have the Polar Bear Plunge, St. Patrick's Day Parade, the Roar to the Shore Motorcycle Rally, the Tattoo Expo, the Polish and Italian-American and Irish Fall Festivals, and much, much more.

Each one of those events and festivals represents challenges - the need to control crowds, to minimize incidents of alcohol and drug abuse and profanity, and to keep both participants and the community safe. But you'll do it—you've proven you can do it — and in the process, each one of those events will add to the richness of entertainment and cultural diversity that the Wildwood community offers to its visitors.

BeachGlow: Concerts for Charity has been, and will continue to be, a professional, well- managed and significant contributor to that entertainment fabric — not just for 2015, but for years into the future. After all is said and done, however, we think it's time for some candor about what is going on here...

It feels to BeachGlow that the Moreys are running a campaign designed to manufacture hysteria. They are attacking—with half-truths and insinuations—a genre of music and everything associated with it. In many ways, EDM is being attacked the way rock 'n' roll was attacked generations ago. In the process, they are stridently attacking BeachGlow, an organization with a much different approach to the EDM scene.

It feels to BeachGlow that the Morey Organization wants us all to believe that its goal is to protect the Wildwood Community from the impact of profanities – 20 of them, uttered over a nine-hour music festival.  We've all heard worse than that in a 90-minute stroll on the boardwalk.

It feels to BeachGlow that the Moreys want us to believe that they are protecting the town from incidences of alcohol and drug abuse - when those same risks are inherent with any large event and festival.  City statistics, however, show that these incidences are no greater with a BeachGlow EDM festival - and may be fewer - than other events the City hosts.

We don't profess to know the Morey Organization's full agenda - but we can recognize when a rich and influential corporation decides to bully an all-volunteer, not-for-profit company, and when it decides to use its considerable clout and political muscle to put pressure on City officials.

We've worked with the City of Wildwood for two years now.  After a long process, the City approved BeachGlow's proposal for BeachGlow Music Festival 2015 to be held on July 4th this year.  BeachGlow has been encouraged by the City to move forward in our planning and has, in fact, repeatedly told us not to worry - "We'll make this work no matter what."

Well, THIS is the "no matter what." 

We took the City at its word and have moved full-steam ahead. We've invested time, money, and manpower into this July 4th date.

The impact of trying to move it at this point would be catastrophic. It would be economically devastating, and it would destroy BeachGlow's credibility and reputation. We don't believe the organization of BeachGlow would survive such a move.

We'd like to ask—rather than force those consequences—that the City of Wildwood stand up to these intimidation tactics by the Morey Organization - allow BeachGlow to produce its July 4th Festival as we were approved to do and have discussed for months now - and work with us closely again this year to make it safe for our fans, and something of value to the entire Wildwood community.

Thank you for this opportunity to state our case. 

Addendum: 

Access to public documents regarding BeachGlow’s 501(c)(3) status and past tax returns is readily available on the BeachGlow website at www.BeachGlow.org/about.  In addition, anyone may search for BeachGlow’s current information at the IRS Web site using the following URL.

http://apps.irs.gov/app/eos/revokeSearch.do?searchChoice=ePostcard&dispatchMethod=selectSe arch.  Be sure to enter in the business name “BeachGlow” 

From this site, you can look up BeachGlow’s Form 990 submissions for calendar years 2012 and 2013. The tax return for 2014 will be filed in a timely manner in accordance with IRS deadlines. 

About BeachGlow 

BeachGlow: Concerts for Charity, Inc. is a nonprofit, all-volunteer music festival production company that fundraises for worthy causes.  One-hundred percent of its proceeds go to charity.  It was founded in 2011 by 16-year-old high school student Dane Kunkel, who realized he had power as a DJ to use music to “speak” to young adults in their language about giving back and helping others. BeachGlow was incorporated in 2012, trademarked in 2013, and achieved 501(c)(3) status in 2014. Today, Kunkel heads up a board of directors, a growing staff, and many festival volunteers who make it possible to raise money and awareness for worthy causes.  For more information, please visit www.beachglowevent.com.  

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