By Christina Denardo
In an effort to revitalize Boynton Beach’s downtown and save money, the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency is moving the annual free concert series from the waterfront to downtown.
It’s a return to downtown for the concert series, which was created 14 years ago under a different name, Tunes in Town, to boost city spirit. In 1998, the series moved to Oceanfront Park on A1A in Ocean Ridge. The monthly waterfront performances were popular, drawing about 400 people at each concert, said Kathy Biscuiti, the special events director for Boynton Beach’s CRA, which took over the event three years ago when it became a victim of the city’s budget cuts.
But because the park was not in the CRA’s zone, it couldn’t use taxpayer money to hold the free concerts and had to rely on private donors to pay for them. The concerts cost the agency between $7,000 and $10,000 every year.
The agency didn’t want to move the series because the venue was popular with concert attendees and it didn’t have a problem raising the money during the area’s economic boom.
“In years past, we had donors and it wasn't that hard,” Biscuiti said. “People were used to going there and people didn’t want change.”
Now organizers have no choice because of the economy. Private donors don’t have or won’t part with the extra cash. State and local budgets are also being axed.
But they hope that the additional parking downtown — previously attendees had to take a shuttle to the concerts — and nearby playgrounds will attract an even bigger and wider audience, including families and young adults.
The 2010 concert series begins Jan. 15 near the Schoolhouse Children’s Museum on Ocean Ave., and will be held the third Friday of every month through May. This year’s lineup will feature an array of local bands playing country music to calypso. Attendees should bring chairs or blankets.
“People are looking for a free night out, and this is something that brings in a lot of people from all over,” Biscuiti said. “We want to highlight our downtown. This is going to be a good change.”