Submitted by the City of Bellingham, written by Janice Keller

The City of Bellingham is seeking proposals for a new music-related “signature event” to be held annually during October through May, intended to encourage tourism, commerce, and fun during off-peak seasons.

“Our performing arts, music venues and food and beverage industries have been hit hard by the pandemic,” Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood said. “We are eager to see proposals that support these industries and highlight what Bellingham has to offer during the fall, winter and spring seasons. We want to build signature events that local residents can connect with that also draw visitors to our area.”

Fleetwood said that, while COVID is not yet behind us, the City is issuing this solicitation with optimism that it will soon be safer to return to the music scene. Proposals selected for contracting with the City will be required to follow federal, state and local health and safety guidelines.

The request for proposals targets those interested in and capable of producing a music-related festival or special event. The ideal applicant will be a qualified producer with the experience, industry contacts and innovative vision for launching an annual music event that will encourage tourism and commerce, maximize national and regional exposure, and enhance quality of life for local residents.

This will be the third time the City has sought proposals for a “signature event;” Bellingham SeaFeast was established in 2016 and Northwest Tune-Up, a biking and outdoor music event, will debut this summer. Both events were solicited, selected and partially funded by the City as new signature events.

The current solicitation for proposals is unique in that the City is specifically seeking a music-related event and the event must take place in the months of October through May, to generate hotel stays and tourism-related spending in months that are visited less than our summer months.

Up to $85,000 is available for the first year and approximately $60,000 is available for the two following years, for one or more proposals selected by the City. The source of funds is a lodging tax paid by people staying in Bellingham hotels and motels. The award(s) will be announced this spring, with the inaugural event(s) likely to take place in 2023.

All proposals must be received no later than noon March 25, 2022. For more details and submittal requirements see the Signature Event page of the City website

Members of the City’s Lodging Tax Advisory Committee will review applications and make funding recommendations to the City. The City will contract with one or more qualified entities, providing seed money required to operate, promote and grow another regional event for Bellingham and the Pacific Northwest.

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