JAY-Z denounces Philadelphia mayor over Made in America’s eviction from Benjamin Franklin Parkway in open letter
Made in America’s need to identify a new venue for its succeeding years of production comes after a statement from the office of Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. “This is the last year MIA will be held on the Parkway,” the office proclaims, “It’s unclear how MIA will want to proceed in the future but the City is interested in discussing alternate locations within Philadelphia for future years.” Made in America’s coerced migration from the Parkway will disrupt the festival’s six-year streak at the locale, hosted in the heart of the city since its inception. The statement continues, “Over the years, tourism has grown overall and the need for an event of this scale at this location may no longer be necessary.”
While the office adds that it remains, open to the event continuing elsewhere, Made in America’s eviction from its long term home did not please festival founder and rap mogul JAY-Z, who since penned an open letter expressing his disappointment with the mayor’s ousting of MIA from the Parkway. The rap mogul counterclaims that Kenney’s move, “signifies zero appreciation for what Made In America has built alongside the phenomenal citizens of this city.”
“Made in America is a multi-cultural platform that represents strength, freedom of speech, and perseverance for artists and music lovers,” JAY-Z writes. He continues, stating, “The Parkway is a cultural arts center that is symbolic to over 600 artists that have performed at this event. The Parkway captures the freedom and spirit of inclusivity that drew us to the city of Brotherly Love.” HOV does not indicate whether his festival property will leave Philadelphia altogether, or how the event organizers plan to relocate the festival in the future. JAY-Z goes on to disclose that the Kenney administration even tried to put a halt on this year’s edition of MIA.
Read JAY’s full letter below:
The Made in America festival is a multi-cultural platform that represents strength, freedom of speech and perseverance for artists and music lovers. Philadelphia, an iconic city, represents those ideals. The location is integral to the pulse of the festival. The Parkway is a cultural arts center that is symbolic to over 600 artists that have performed at this event. The Parkway captures the freedom and spirit of inclusivity that drew us to the city of Brotherly Love. The celebratory nature and essence of this festival has inspired locals as well as visitors from across the nation to enjoy Labor Day in Philadelphia.
We are disappointed that the Mayor of the City of Philadelphia would evict us from the heart of the city, through a media outlet, without a sit-down meeting, notice, dialogue or proper communication. It signifies zero appreciation for what Made In America has built alongside the phenomenal citizens of this city.
In fact, this administration immediately greeted us with a legal letter trying to stop the 2018 event.
Since 2012, Made in America, one of the only minority-owned festivals, has had a positive $102.8 million economic impact to Philadelphia and the festival has paid $3.4 million in rent to the City. Made in America employs over 1000 Philadelphians each day and 85 percent of our partners are Philadelphia based companies.
We have studies and reports that prove the festival significantly contributes to Philadelphia’s tourism bottom line. We cannot comment if the Mayor has reviewed any of these materials.
We consider this stance a failure on the Mayor’s part. Is this an accurate representation of how he and his administration treat partners that economically benefit his city? Do they regularly reject minority-owned businesses that want to continue to thrive and grow alongside his city’s people?
In addition to contributing to Philadelphia, since its inception, Made in America has donated $2.9 million to the United Way of Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. Cause Village, the festival’s philanthropic footprint and hub for social action, averages more than 15,000 social actions taken over the two-days via ongoing partnerships with more than 56 charitable and activist organizations representing all causes.
How does an administration, merely discard an event that generates millions in income and employs the city’s people as if we are disposable now that we have served our purpose? The city is right, in one respect, the first Made in America festival took place when there was a great need for tourism. By their admission, the festival first started as a “unique attraction to the City on an otherwise quiet Labor Day weekend. Over the years, tourism has grown overall.” Our question is, “How do you think that tourism grew, Mayor Kenney?”
We will discuss our options internally and handle accordingly.