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Promoted 'Occupy' festival scraps plans for VIP access

March 14, 2012|By Georgia Garvey, RedEye

Organizers of a Chicago music festival using the "Occupy" name say they have scrapped plans to offer VIP tickets to the event, planned for May 12-13 in Union Park.

Festival organizers also said they're going back to Occupy Chicago to get more input.

Graham Czach, a Chicago-based musician and an Occupy member, said the festival is an opportunity for musicians, performers and volunteers to raise money for and awareness of Occupy causes, which include the fight for economic equality. After a news release drew media attention to the festival, Czach said public feedback caused him to rethink a plan for VIP access, which would have allowed premium ticket-holders special amenities like private entrances and exits.

"There is no VIP or premium access" now, Czach said. "That was an oversight that was pretty big."

Czach said he and other organizers formed SolidClarity LLC to deal with the mechanics of organizing the event, scheduled for the weekend before the NATO summit in Chicago, and any follow-up nonprofit activities. Half of the profits from the festival would be donated to Occupy Chicago, he said, with the other half being used as potential profit-sharing for volunteers or others who work on the festival. Czach said he also is considering applying any additional money to future nonprofit or activist events.

"We're not a corporation, we're part of the movement," he said. "There's no profiteering. We're sharing everything."

Ticket prices on occupyfestival.com are $35 for a one-day pass and $55 for a two-day pass. The Chicago Park District says that a permit for the festival has been submitted but not approved and that insurance and fees must be secured before approval is finalized.

Occupy Chicago OK'd supporting the festival earlier this year, according to minutes on the Occupy website, Czach and another Occupy Chicago member, but after recent media attention, the group's organizing body on Wednesday night planned to offer further opportunities to discuss the matter.

ggarvey@tribune.com | @gcgarvey

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