Nick White says he's determined to make a major downtown Indianapolis music festival he's calling Evermore a reality.
For the Sept. 30-Oct. 2 fest, he's got American Legion Mall secured as a location, permits in place, a site plan worked out for three stages, and 3-day passes on sale online at prices ranging from $69 to $189.
All he needs are sponsors. And 35 acts.
But first he needs those sponsors.
With a proposed budget of $750,000, White—a former executive producer at WTTV Channel 4 and WXIN Channel 59—and partner Zach Morris—who, with Louisville-based Buffalo Construction Inc., organizes building projects for Texas Roadhouse and Olive Garden—are now in search of companies willing to sponsor what could be the largest music festival in Indiana.
Much of the sponsorship money will be turned into advances to land electronic and alternative music acts that the duo hopes will attract 20,000 music lovers.
“We started two months ago,” the 29-year-old White said of organization efforts for the festival. “We wanted to make sure all the ducks were in a row before we started the sponsorship round.”
White said he's convinced that four months is plenty of time to secure such acts and he hopes to name names by June 1.
Naming rights for the Evermore main stage carry a $25,000 price tag, while $10,000 sponsorships offer logos on marketing materials and posters, signage at the festival, and other incentives. Various other packages are available as well. Food truck spots are being sold for $200. And local artists and stores can have booth space for a $200 fee.
“We’re also open to finding an equity investor if we need to go that route,” White said.
But he doesn’t think he’ll have to. The market for festivals, he noted, has exploded. He points to Cincinnati’s Bunbury Music Festival and Lousville’s Forecastle Festival—each of which now attracts around 60,000 patrons. Unlike those summer fests, though, Evermore is set for fall, a time that White hopes will lure students from area colleges. He deliberately picked a weekend when the Colts weren’t playing at home.
The Evermore idea was hatched when Morris told White that, for his bachelor party, he would like to go to Indy’s biggest outdoor music festival.
“We looked at each other and realized there’s not one,” White said. “So we quickly looked into how we could make it happen.”
“If we get a good set of bands, 20,000 people should be an easy number,” he said. “We chose a price point that’s competitive in the music festival world—it’s a very cheap ticket compared to other concerts.”
Some festivals elsewhere have grown more organically than the fast-tracked Evermore. Forecastle, in Louisville, was founded in 2002 as a neighborhood festival, but has grown to where it now attracts the likes of Sam Smith, The Black Keys, and The Avett Brothers.
Others aim high from the beginning, such as July’s first-timer PromoWest Fest in Columbus, Ohio. That newcomer, however, has the strength of 30-year-old entertainment firm PromoWest Productions—which also presents Cincinnati’s Bunbury and Buckle Up festivals. The July 15-17 Columbus event is expected to attract 10,000 on its first outing for a slate of acts topped by Snoop Dog, The Flaming Lips, Tears for Fears, Mac Miller and Modest Mouse.
Unlike Evermore’s quick ramp-up, the Columbus event has been in the works for close to four years, said Marissa Luther, marketing director for PromoWest.
The challenges for a start-up event, she said, include marketing, getting a solid security team in place, lining up volunteers and working out a smart layout for the festival. That’s on top of ensuring a desirable lineup of performers.
“We are already talking about acts for next year and we haven’t had our first festival yet,” she said.
White sees a strong future for Evermore. In five years, he’d love to see acts on the level of Mumford & Sons or Avicii play his stages. For now, the search is on both for the money and for three headlining bands.
“Once we get those names and sponsorships, we’ll be set,” he said. “It’s kind of a roller coaster and we’re getting to the top of the hill. Once we get over that hump, everything will be fine.”
White said he hasn't set a fail-safe date yet—a time he'd call things off if all the elements haven’t come together.
"We are fully committed to putting this event on and having it be successful," he said. "While we may need to scale down if a few things don't go our way, there are no plans to pull the plug, there is just too much potential."