It’s important that our community understands the specific reasons for the cancellation of Arise.
I canceled Arise only because the Pueblo Planning Department did not approve our permit.
As part of their permitting process, Arise was required to seek approval from various county and state agencies. All of them granted our approval or conditional approval except for CDOT and the Pueblo Sheriff.
Regarding the Pueblo Sheriff, our safety director and I contacted them in early January and soon thereafter provided them with all the information they requested, but they never approved or disapproved us over the course of five months, even as we requested that they do so.
Also, CDOT never approved our application either. Arise submitted a traffic impact study that revealed we did not have any significant impact on traffic in the area, and we paid for our consultant to work with them. But they never approved or disapproved. Both of these agencies never offered any objective, sensible reason for canceling the festival.
Arise was ready to be produced and we had the support of our neighbors. We thought that CDOT and the Sheriff were about to approve us when the Planning Department canceled our application altogether for two reasons: because Arise never received approval from CDOT or the Sheriff who, as stated, never offered any reason. With this decision, Arise could not in any way be produced legally. And we did not have any other, realistic option but to ultimately close the business, permanently.
With this cancellation the local economy lost about a million dollars. Arise is devastated and heart-broken two weeks before production—and must terminate about a thousand jobs and services, many of them artists.
In short, I feel that Arise provided all these agencies with the information they needed to make their decision, but two of them just did not make any decision at all. I believe the Sheriff stonewalled the festival, not for reasons of public safety, but for cultural prejudice, and others supported him. I feel I was denied my constitutional rights related to property values (as I own the property) and freedom of assembly. If these agencies approved our festival, instead of just delaying, we were on course to lay the foundation for one of the best festivals in the world.
This is the third time in recent years that Arise has been damaged and ultimately destroyed by the whims and bureaucracies of government, with two and maybe three of those incidents coming from law enforcement. The freedom to assemble is a constitutional right, especially when conducted on your own property. However, when seeking Special Event Permits, the government becomes involved, and especially law enforcement who then have concerning levels of power to cancel festivals based on their discretion. Many in law enforcement do not like the ideas of festival culture—and so make our operation difficult.
It was undoubtedly the worst, most frustrating, senseless and traumatic managerial experience of my life.