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[LOCAL VOCAL]

IN DEFENSE OF DGI

I serve as president of the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society. I am also a community DJ at WQFS 90.9 at Guilford College, and have been doing a radio show featuring North Carolina musicians, many of them local, for more than 13 years.

On behalf of the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society, Greensboro’s own 28-year-old, all-volunteer 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, I wish to offer our thanks and recognition to the organization of Downtown Greensboro Inc. for their unwavering support of local businesses, their focus on economic development for the city in general and specifically for their attention to the importance of the arts in the Triad.

Each spring the PBPS holds its annual blues festival, which serves as our major fundraiser. Our 27th annual Carolina Blues Festival will be held May 18 at Festival Park in downtown Greensboro. DGI has offered great support and expertise with our event. When our organization decided to move our festival back to downtown Greensboro in 2003, DGI was extremely helpful in securing a temporary location. When we moved our event to Festival Park in 2006, DGI assisted in logistics, aided us in working with the city of Greensboro and provided much-needed promotional support. For the past three years, DGI has been a festival sponsor. Their guidance and marketing support is very important to our event.

DGI has provided valuable advice and expertise to help make sure that our event is a great success. Staff has provided sponsorship leads, social-media and media support among many other contributions. DGI  walks the pavement to help us put up posters and collateral materials across the Triad. Also importantly, they show up to our event, and staff and community volunteers spend the day with us tabling to promote return visits to downtown Greensboro through registrations for e-mails and handing out their downtown guide and materials. I have also witnessed them working hard to promote other downtown events, such as First Friday and Fun Fourth.

The Carolina Blues Festival is but one event that Downtown Greensboro, Inc. has lent its support. DGI is very supportive of the creative community. I feature musicians of all ages on my weekly show, including many up and coming groups. DGI has supported the creative community by placing artists in venues through their First Friday event. They have reached out to audiences of all ages and worked with the WQFS to develop a public service announcement as outreach to the Guilford College student community and community at large. They have supported numerous musical and art-based events in downtown Greensboro.

I look at the professional website and communications they provide and I am impressed. DGI builds community and awareness for ALL downtown — its events, businesses, churches, education, culture, the arts.

I would like to address a comment in the News & Record that the Greensboro City Council has managed to bring food trucks and street musicians downtown despite DGI. DGI specifically reached out to me to help with getting musicians to give them input on the busking ordinance. I received an e-mail from Ed Wolverton on Jan. 3 asking me to connect him with local musicians, as he wished to talk to them and set up a focus group to get their input about the busking proposal. I perceived that he was interested in having busking in Greensboro, and that he was genuinely interested in helping to craft a busking ordinance that addressed the concerns of the area musicians. I know also that Ed looked at busking ordinances in other areas of the country. I see Ed Wolverton, and DGI here as a mediator in this situation, trying to make sure that the interests of all parties are addressed. There was no indication at all that DGI wasn’t supportive of the change in ordinance, in fact, it seemed quite the opposite.

I feel that DGI has been a champion at promoting downtown Greensboro, helping out fellow nonprofits and promoting downtown as a destination for fun, art, culture, music and good restaurants. DGI also acts as a liaison between all the various groups and organizations with interests in downtown. I don’t see this organization as being closed and exclusive, as some critics have suggested. DGI has a link on their website where people can volunteer. They have open committee meetings. They have a downtown events calendar, where people are able to sign up to add downtown events. They also send out weekly e-mails about various goings on in Downtown Greensboro. They encourage people to get involved and participate.

In conclusion, DGI has done a stellar job in helping to promote and revitalize our Center City. They are an integral part of keeping downtown Greensboro vibrant and relevant.

Chris Roulhac

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