The Triangle might need to make room for another music festival in 2016: On Wednesday afternoon, several independent sources confirmed that Moogfest, “a five-day festival dedicated to the synthesis of technology, art and music,” is looking to relocate to downtown Durham in April 2016.
Representatives with Moog Music, the music manufacturer responsible for the Asheville-based event, would not comment on the news. They did, however, confirm that representatives from Imprint Projects, a bicoastal company that worked extensively with Moog to produce Moogfest 2014, were in Durham this week to secure necessary partnerships for such an event. Representatives of Capitol Broadcasting Company and American Tobacco Campus are said to be supporting the festival’s move to Durham. They would not comment after repeated requests by the INDY.
Moogfest’s history is a scattered one. Originally a small-scale New York tribute to company founder and synthesizer mastermind Bob Moog, the event came to Asheville in reimagined form in 2010 as a partnership between Knoxville’s AC Entertainment, the company partially responsible for Bonnaroo, and Moog Music. Featuring headliners such as Massive Attack, Squarepusher, The Flaming Lips and Orbital, Moogfest lasted only three years.
In late 2012, AC Entertainment announced that the partnership had dissolved and that the company would return in 2013 with a new event of its own in Asheville, the Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Summit. Several months later, in April 2014, Moog Music brought its own new rendition of Moogfest to Asheville, with more panels and interactive components than before.
Neither event did very well: In March, one month before Moogfest, AC Entertainment announced that they were canceling Mountain Oasis indefinitely. And in May 2014, just one month after Moogfest, grant applications revealed that the debut festival had lost $1.5 million, in spite or because of a slate of high-profile speakers and performers. The festival received some financial support from the city of Asheville and Buncombe County. Moogfest then applied for another $250,000 from The Buncombe County Culture and Recreation Authority, and that application was unanimously denied. In July, Moogfest announced that they would return in 2016 as a biennial event, though the press release never indicated that the festival would return to Asheville.
Reached for comment Wednesday afternoon, Asheville mayor Esther Manheimer said that potential plans to move the event were a surprise to her and that she needed to get more information.
“They reinvented it completely,” Manheimer said. “It was a collision of arts and technology that was very different.”
Durham’s largest music festival, The Art of Cool Fest, will return to the Bull City for the second consecutive April later this year. Capitol Broadcasting Company serves as an Art of Cool sponsor. They have yet to announce festival dates for 2016.
“It’s cool to see other festivals interested in Durham as a host city,” Art of Cool co-founder Cicely Mitchell said. “I hope that they will support and collaborate with existing local festivals such as Art of Cool, Full Frame, ADF and Bull Durham Blues Fest.”
UPDATE: Wednesday night, after the original publication of this story, Casey Steinbacher, president and CEO of the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce, sent this response to the news through a publicist: “Durham has a long and proud history of welcoming and nurturing both artists and entrepreneurs. We always keep our eyes and ears open for new opportunities to enhance life in this, one of America’s most exciting cities—and Moogfest could certainly be a good fit. As always, if there is specific news to announce, we’ll work through the proper channels to share it with our amazing community.”