(This is the ninth in a series of ten installments documenting both my time during Philly Beer Week 2010 and insights provided to me by customers, importers/distributors/representatives, brewers, brewery owners, publicans, et cetera. All of whom wanted their comments to be aired, but very few who wanted their name associated with them. Some of you may not appreciate the anonymity, but that's the way it needs to be if we're going to talk about these things around here. You'll need to trust in me that I've gathered up all of these notes and opinions during PBW '10 and am sharing them with you in order to continue the conversation about what will make a better Philly Beer Week 2011.)
Click back to see the ninth in the series. Click forward to see the tenth in the series.
I needed to create an interval here, let's call it installment 9.5 in my series of 10. All other installments in this Series had been written prior to putting up even the first one. But, one that I (intentionally) neglected to include was one focused on beneficiaries (compensation, "interests", and otherwise) of Philly Beer Week. Most likely the touchiest of all subjects I've raised in this expanded 10.5 segment series.
Since this is at least a half-step above my so-called pay grade, I typically make a rule against doing super-sleuthing, expose-writing, scandal-reporting type of work. I have and will continue to focus at least 97% of what I do around here on the positives of the craft beer and homebrewing world.
But, since this topic was raised to me, oh, at least 10-15 times during this year's Philly Beer Week, I figured it's something that should be included here in my 10.5 part series (after all, just check the title of these postings, and this topic seems to obviously belong here in the reams). I'll leave it up to those that get paid the big bucks to dig further to unearth any salient details.
How many times do we hear of scrutiny that is pointed toward beer festival organizers and the charities that they reportedly contribute proceeds to? Goodwill is quickly eroded when good intentions do not measure up to reality when the till is accounted for.
Philly Beer Week, remember, is a concept..a festival organizer..a marketing organization for a grand 10-day event. It's also set up as a non-profit organization. And now, more voices are asking for some accountability...from the inside and the out. Lots of money comes in and some amounts go out. What happens in between apparently has quite a number of people more concerned than ever.
More concerned about who is taking how much in terms of a stipend/salary. More concerned about how the public relations firm is being paid. More concerned about the rising rate of "membership" in PBW. More concerned about what the rising membership rates actually, tangibly give the participating organizations.
From one long-term participant in PBW: "What do I get other than a listing on the PBW website and in the newspaper? Why should I bother to pay $750 when I have my own website, my own email distribution list, my own Facebook Fans and Twitter Followers, my own advertising budget that already puts advertisements in newspapers, magazines, etc?"
And, from another reputable participating establishment: "Why shouldn't I simply throw events where I take advantage of my own resources, online word-of-mouth through guys like you (i.e. The Brew Lounge), and forums like BeerAdvocate, Rate Beer, Burgundian Babble Belt, etc. Wouldn't I get just as many customers to show up for my events?"
From an interested consumer: "There's a whole lot of money floating around PBW. I'm not convinced that they are really a nonprofit organization to the letter of the law."
From a high-ranking participant/board member: "I've been involved with the PBW Organizations and not even I know where all the money goes. I'd love to see a full accounting for the cash flows."
Listen up; I'm not putting all this out there to cast anyone in a bad light...even though I suppose that is how some of this can be construed. So, I go back to one of my original statements above...We're quick to jump on any festival organizer who doesn't live up to their stated charitable intentions or nonprofit status.
I'm not crying foul on anyone yet here around Philly Beer Week. But, enough folks who have vested interests in the success of PBW are raising cautionary flags and I figure it's better to start talking about these things now before it's too late and we're talking instead about how to salvage something that has broken.
That's as far as I'm willing to dig for now; others feel free to pick up the shovel if you can contribute to the conversation. Remember it's all about creating a viable long-term success in Philly Beer Week and beyond.
Your thoughts, if you will?
Enjoy the long holiday weekend. Coming next Tuesday...We will finally take a crack at wrapping up this Philly Beer Week.