Sept. 2, 2014 09:15 PM
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Downtown Alive! trims down to just seven concerts but draws bigger crowds and seasonal attendance.

 

Downtown Alive! trims down to just seven concerts but draws bigger crowds and seasonal attendance. By Walter Pierce

Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014

If you've seen the poster for the new Fall 2014 Downtown Alive! concert series, you might have noticed fewer concerts. Far fewer.

Eleven to 12 was the norm for the biannual series until last fall - you're old-school Lafayette if you remember when they moved it into the cacophonous cement parking tower on rainy days - when Downtown Lafayette Unlimited, the event arm of the Downtown Development Authority, decided to "work smarter, not harder," in the words of DLU Marketing Director Kate Durio.

"Since last fall, there have been two big changes: We have substantially increased our budget for bands so that we could attract larger crowds and bring more people Downtown. We also took historically under-performing dates and shifted our efforts to non-DTA! events, such as Hottest Night of the Year, ArtStomp and 2nd Saturday ArtWalk, held every month, now with live music," Durio explains. "What we've seen is that in reducing the amount of Downtown Alive! events by giving up those unreliable calendar dates and by booking bigger bands, we're seeing a greater impact to Downtown."

This season is a good illustration. Gone are the unknown, up-and-coming - albeit always talented - bands. In are the big draws like The Molly Ringwalds, Beausoleil avec Michael Doucet and Li'l Band O' Gold.

The result: more people Downtown on Fridays during a Downtown Alive! season, even with fewer concerts.

"We've slowly been tinkering with the DTA! status quo beginning last fall," Durio adds. "We experimented with The Molly Ringwalds to open our Fall 2013 season and we saw the largest turnout we've ever had at a Downtown Alive! in our 31-year history."

Durio admits it's hard to calculate attendance for free concerts - there are no ticket sales. But beverage sales can serve as a stand-in barometer, and using that metric, Durio says, shows that paring down the number of concerts while boosting the name recognition of the performers is paying off.

"In 2013, we saw the highest attendance we've ever had in over 30 years," she notes. "And we want to continue that model for success to bring more people Downtown to celebrate our culture."

DOWNTOWN ALIVE FALL 2014

Sept. 5        The Chee-Weez
                  (Rock & Roll Variety Parc International)

Sept. 12      Bandswap: Bonsoir, Catin with Gasoline Lollipops
                 (Cajun & Blues Parc Sans Souci)

Sept.19       Lil' Band O' Gold
                 (Swamp Pop Parc Sans Souci)

Sept. 26      Beausoleil avec Michael Doucet  
                 (Cajun Parc International)

Oct. 3         The Molly Ringwalds
                 (Rock & Roll Variety Parc International)

Oct. 10       No DTA!
                 (Festivals Acadiens et Creoles)

Oct. 17      Rockin' Dopsie Jr. & the Zydeco Twisters
                (Zydeco Parc Sans Souci)

Oct. 24      Chubby Carrier & the BayouSwamp Band with Connie G.
                (Zydeco Parc Sans Souci)

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