Light City founders: Light City was bad and the city is also bad
By BRANDON WEIGEL
Nov 14, 2016 | 4:34 PM
Following an October lawsuit from the city, Light City founders Brooke Hall and Justin Allen today posted an open letter to allege the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts has taken their livelihood and did not do a good job of seeing the festival through to begin with.
Last month the city sued Hall and Allen, seeking to gain control of all the associated trademarks with the light festival. Hall and Allen have countersued, saying the rights still belong to them.
In case the framing of this wasn't clear, Hall and Allen posted their response on the newly minted site davidandgoliath.info. It includes a section with anonymous Facebook comments from people shaming the city.
Important reminder: Light City cost $3.8 million to put on and, according to the city, lost about $400,000. After coming up with the idea and approaching BOPA, Allen and Hall were paid $170,000, via their company What Works Studios, to book a conference for Light City. But that $400,000 loss did bring in thousands of tourists and $33.8 million in "economic impact."
-BOPA "was fiscally irresponsible by spending more money on the festival than what was raised," according to Hall and Allen.
-The light installations were bad, say Hall and Allen. "BOPA spent money on light installations that fell into the harbor or were otherwise inoperable, financed a number of subpar light installations, and paid a vendor for over 120 custom light fixtures placed along the waterfront that had little to no impact."
-They were bad because BOPA did not take advice from a "light festival expert." "BOPA did not put into place a qualified creative director to curate the light art walk. Moreover, BOPA refused to consult with the world renowned light festival expert that we engaged prior to their involvement. Instead, BOPA made a number of costly mistakes that could have been avoided."
-Hall and Allen will save us from Baltimore's political stasis through the power of Silicon Valley-like disruption. "While this lawsuit against us is obviously concerning, we see this as an opportunity to disrupt the status quo that stunts our city's progress.
"This is about more than an annual festival or the name of an event. This is about standing up to those in power who think they can take whatever they want from whoever they want without consequence."
-The innovation conferences, organized by Hall and Allen, however, were flawless. "The Light City innovation conferences attracted thought leaders from around the country and were a resounding success."