Cedar Rapids, Iowa’s GO Cedar Rapids CVB ceased operations after incurring $2.3 million in debts from producing the “newbo evolve” festival, according to a report in The Gazette, a local area newspaper.

The CVB still owes Bankers Trust $1.5 million, according to The Gazette, and it has also failed to pay back vendors, including local businesses. The amount owed to vendors totals $800,000, according to KCRG.

“Information provided to the board during planning as well as up until days before the event regarding both tickets sales and sponsorship dollars raised were simply not accurate,” GO Cedar Rapids Board Chairman John Myers said during a news conference, as reported in a previously published article from The Gazette.

“We do not know if this was done intentionally or negligently,” he added. “However, these reports led us as a board to make decisions we would not have made otherwise.”

The newbo evolve festival was held from August 3-5, 2018, and featured headline acts Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson. A promotional website described it as "a [multifaceted] festival that celebrates the creative and bohemian spirit through music, art, fashion, food and technology." Leaders of GO Cedar Rapids told reporters they were misled about ticket sales figures, sponsorship and visitor spending, according to The Gazette.

The CVB’s board of directors fired GO Cedar Rapids’ chief executive, Aaron McCreight on August 20, 2018, and the event’s creative director, Scott Tallman was fired shortly after the event on August 9, 2018.

The nonprofit CVB received approximately half of its annual $2 million budget from the city’s hotel-motel tax allocated by the Cedar Rapids City Council, which also advanced GO Cedar Rapids $500,000 to produce the event, according to The Gazette. The city can likely recoup its money through the taxes.

John Myers, board chairman of GO Cedar Rapids, declined to provide a comment to Meetings Today for this article. He noted that venuworks is the best source of information on conventions held in the city moving forward.

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