Business

Creative architect behind 'newbo evolve' fired

Community events director says he is proud of 'bold' festival

Scott Tallman, director of community events for GO Cedar Rapids, speaks Jan. 29 at a news conference in Cedar Rapids to announce a new music and arts festival called “newbo evolve.” The tourism bureau let him go less than a week after the festival ended Aug. 5. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Scott Tallman, director of community events for GO Cedar Rapids, speaks Jan. 29 at a news conference in Cedar Rapids to announce a new music and arts festival called “newbo evolve.” The tourism bureau let him go less than a week after the festival ended Aug. 5. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — The creative architect behind “newbo evolve,” a three-day festival praised as a “success” by organizers and city officials, was fired less than a week after it ended.

Scott Tallman, director of community events for GO Cedar Rapids, the local tourism bureau that produced newbo evolve, confirmed he was dismissed last Thursday, but said he was not given a reason. Newbo evolve concluded Aug. 5.

Tallman, a Bettendorf native with a 30-year career in Los Angeles producing events such as Comic-Con for Universal Television, was hired in February 2016 to create new events to help draw people to Cedar Rapids.

Newbo evolve was his grandest endeavor.

In an interview Wednesday, he remained positive about the festival, saying he was “proud” of the event.

“Newbo evolve had a mission to be bold and I think we really accomplished that,” Tallman said.

As the creative mind behind newbo evolve, Tallman led the vision for the festival, which intertwined music, design, film, fashion, goat yoga, cooking demonstrations and inspirational speakers.

He constructed the lineup card of talent, which included Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson as musical headliners, and an eclectic mix of speakers including film director John Waters, fashion expert Carson Kressley, Olympic medalist Adam Rippon and woodworker Clint Harp.

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While individual tickets could be purchased for the concerts, only all-access pass holders were allowed to attend the speaker sessions as well. Three-day passes were sold for about $400 each.

Financial numbers and ticket sales have not been released for the event, which GO Cedar Rapids initially confirmed had a budget of $4 to $5 million.

Organizers and others have said that first-year festivals like this don’t typically make money.

While GO Cedar Rapids is a nonprofit, and as such doesn’t have the same disclosure requirements as a public body, two-thirds of its $1.6 million annual budget is publicly funded through hotel-motel tax revenue allocated by the Cedar Rapids City Council.

The City Council also advanced GO Cedar Rapids $500,000 to help put on the event.

GO Cedar Rapids had agreed to repay the amount by Sept. 1 or forgo some of the next year’s hotel-motel tax allotment. The City Council pre-emptively deducted that amount when making hotel-motel tax awards in July.

Aaron McCreight, president of GO Cedar Rapids, did not immediately return phone and text messages seeking comment Wednesday evening.

l Comments: (319) 398-8310; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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