Jay-Z is not scheduled to perform at his Made In America festival this year. But despite last year’s highly-publicized kerfuffle incited by Mayor Jim Kenney’s attempt to evict the fest from the parkway, the two-day open-air concert will take over the art museum area once again.
However, a few adjustments were made.
After the expected thousands of young, excited, and probably drunk, concert-goers get their fill of popular acts including Cardi B, Tierra Whack, and Lizzo, residents can expect to see stepped-up cleaning efforts by the city.
Sanitation crews will pick up detritus left behind within the area bound by Market Street, Girard Avenue, Broad Street and 26th Street. Last year, the crews only went up to Brown Street.
“I think it would be certainly helpful especially a few blocks off the parkway, the directions of Spring Garden, Fairmount, Logan Square,” said Noam Kugelmass, who lives a few blocks away from the parkway.
City spokesperson Lauren Cox said the clean-up is the most obvious change for the public.
Behind the scenes, however, a meeting between city officials, residents, the Parkway Council, a nonprofit group representing neighborhood interests and M.I.A. production staff happened in May.
It was a new addition to the calendar and one intended to air concerns about the event and its possible impacts on the community. A second meeting took place this month. Last year, only one such meeting happened in August.
A festival hotline that residents can call launched this week, Cox said. The number is 917-732-7501.
Another move to soften the impact of the festival on the neighborhood: City staffers from L&I will get some assistance from staff provided by event producers to crack down on unlicensed vending.
The efforts come in response to area resident’s growing frustrations about the use of the parkway — one of the city’s most prominent arteries — as a place for grand public gatherings.
Last year, the city released a study “to provide context for decision-making on special event uses of the parkway.” It even had a list of recommendations to address concerns about issues including communication, noise and trash.
The study gave the city “a lot of insights on how they can work more collaboratively with residents and the Parkway Council, who have been the most vocal about some of the challenges they face living in an area that a lot of special events have been hosted historically,” said Cox.
The incomparable team at Billy Penn broke the story detailing the city’s plan to relocate the festival to another place, farther away from the art museum steps made famous by actor Sylvester Stallone when he ascended them as Rocky.
Jay-Z pushed back with an op-ed for the Inquirer claiming the “location is integral to the pulse of the festival.” He then blasted the mayor for showing “zero appreciation for what Made In America has built alongside the phenomenal citizens of this city.”
The city and the show producers reached an agreement for the show to keep its iconic backdrop soon after.
“A lot of what happened was just some internal miscommunication,” said Cox. “[The mayor] was trying to address some of the concerns of residents as well as what was needed from the festivals perspective. And ultimately taking everything into consideration everyone really decided that the parkway was really a good home for the festival.”
The two-day festival begins this Saturday.