Since 2012, Jay-Z has held the annual Made In America festival on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia over Labor Day Weekend. In a new op-ed for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Jay-Z says that the city’s mayor, Jim Kenney, has barred the festival from being held on the parkway in 2019, and sent a “legal letter to stop the 2018 event,” which has already been announced and is scheduled to take place in September.
An Inquirer article from earlier this week said that a representative for Kenney noted that it would be the last year that the festival would be held on the parkway.
“We are disappointed that the mayor of the city of Philadelphia would evict us from the heart of the city, through a media outlet, without a sit-down meeting, notice, dialogue, or proper communication,” Jay-Z writes in the piece.
“We consider this stance a failure on the mayor’s part,” he continues later on. “Is this an accurate representation of how he and his administration treat partners that economically benefit his city? Do they regularly reject minority-owned businesses that want to continue to thrive and grow alongside his city’s people?”
Read the full piece here. This year’s Made In America lineup features Nicki Minaj, Post Malone, Meek Mill, Diplo, Zedd, Miguel, and more.
UPDATE: The mayor responded to the op-ed, calling the situation an “unfortunate misunderstanding” that he is “working to resolve.” His statement reads, “The City of Philadelphia supports the Made in America festival and is greatly appreciative of all that it has done for Philadelphia. We are committed to its continued success and thank them for their partnership. We hope to be able to resolve what has been an unfortunate misunderstanding. We are working with Roc Nation and Live Nation to resolve this issue and we are committed to continuing our partnership with the Made in America festival.”
UPDATE 2: Live Nation has also issued a statement about the festival:
Live Nation wholeheartedly supports Jay-Z and Roc Nation’s bid to keep the Made In America Festival at its home on the Ben Franklin Parkway.
We have yet to hear a compelling or plausible explanation for why the festival cannot return to the site where it has successfully been housed for six years and generated $102.8M in positive economic impact to the city.
From Billie Holiday to Will Smith, Patti LaBelle, Jill Scott, The Roots and countless others, urban music is an indelible part of Philadelphia’s culture and history. By handicapping Made In America’s ability to bring the best show possible to the best site possible, this administration makes a statement about how it values the arts and plans to protect and expand the city’s vibrant musical heritage.