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Arts & Entertainment

Deep Ellum Arts Festival Won’t Return in 2023

Citing the economy and security concerns, the production company that produced the Deep Ellum Arts Festival for 28 years calls it quits.
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Bret Redman

The president of the California-based company that has produced the Deep Ellum Arts Festival for 28 years announced Sunday that the event would not continue because of problems with funding.

Main Events International Productions president Stephen Millard said in a statement that the last event, which was held in April, had enough revenue to pay outstanding debts and commitments. “But lacking outside subsidies or investments we did not generate enough reserves to finance another production in 2023,” he said.

Millard, who said he planned to retire, said that the economy also played a factor in his decision, as well as “security concerns affecting all major public events.”

The popular festival took over several blocks of Main Street every year, offering a mix of live music on multiple stages and art in a block party-style presentation. Last year’s festival counted 200 artists and 100 performers, and was the first after several cancellations and delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to MEI Productions, which also maintains an office in Deep Ellum, the festival has showcased more than 2,500 performers and 5,000 artists since it began in 1994, and counts more than 2 million attendees over that time period.

Not everyone in Deep Ellum, however, was a fan of the festival. Last year, a group called the Deep Ellum 100 complained to city officials that the festival muscled out local restaurants and venues, and didn’t showcase enough truly local artists.

“I am very proud of the Festival’s overall accomplishments and the talented and committed individuals, contractors, volunteers, local sponsors, property owners and supporters who have devoted themselves to its success over the years,” Millard said. “The Festival’s goal has always been to draw new audiences into Deep Ellum through original art and music in the signature style of Deep Ellum, and we have achieved and even surpassed this goal over the years.”

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Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson

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Bethany Erickson is the senior digital editor for D Magazine. She's written about real estate, education policy, the stock market, and crime throughout her career, and sometimes all at the same time. She hates lima beans and 5 a.m. and takes SAT practice tests for fun.

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