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Colin Bane’s article “Strictures at an Exhibition” (8/14) is an interesting piece of fiction about the Fort Reno Summer Concert Series, but, unfortunately, fiction is all it is. Mr. Bane insists that more diversity of acts is required to revitalize the concert series. In particular, he mentions rap and go-go acts as sadly absent from the schedule. However, if he had even attempted the slightest amount of actual investigative reporting, Bane would have easily learned that the Park Police have requested that no rap or go-go acts perform due to past violent crowds.

Had he further investigated, Mr. Bane would have discovered that the concerts are free mostly because the bands are not paid. It is exceedingly difficult to find musical acts that are willing to play for free, and, again, further investigation would have shown anyone that indie rock bands are the rare exception to this rule.

It should also be noted that although the concert series does require funding, it stopped looking for “financial backers” after the city cut off its funding in 1992. Donations and a benefit CD released last year have supported the sound engineering and park permit expenses since then.

What is so galling about this article is not its message—Fort Reno concerts perhaps could stand to be more diverse—but rather its complete lack of factual content. Mr. Bane has written an article without even the slightest effort to confirm his “facts.” A single conversation with one of the many helpful volunteers would have revealed any of these basic facts to Mr. Bane. I hope that City Paper is not joining more prominent national news sources in their collective slide into fabrication and plagiarism.

However, outright falsehoods aside, this article shows that the amount of thought that went into it must have taken up only a few moments on the way home. When Mr. Bane calls the concert series to task for its lack of diversity, he truly misses the point. Fort Reno is not Millennium Stage; its task is not to bring performing arts to everyone. Rather, as part of the Northwest Youth Alliance (the only correct information in the article), Fort Reno concerts are aimed at providing drug- and alcohol-free events for disaffected Upper Northwest youths during their summer vacations. While I am certain that the volunteers welcome audiences from all walks of the city, the concerts need to consistently appeal to these children.

In addition, it is insulting to imply that black citizens do not come to the concerts because rap and go-go acts do not play. The last time I checked, black people were allowed to—and do—enjoy music of all types, including indie rock. (Perhaps Mr. Bane needs to be reminded of the close connection reggae and punk shared in the ’70s.) When I see a jazz group at Millennium Stage, there are often extraordinarily few black members of the audience there as well; this is certainly an issue for both concert series, but clearly location and venue are more important considerations than the performers.

Bane has written an article that is utterly irresponsible and badly misrepresents a wonderful concert series—which, while certainly not perfect, is one of the only remaining symbols of real community in D.C. His complete failure to check on any of his facts or to investigate his article in any way is reprehensible and a blight on the entire publication. The conclusions he comes to from these “facts” are infantile and simplistic to the extreme. There is a very large ocean of talented journalists out there waiting for their chance. Throw Bane back: He’s not done yet.


via the Internet