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Events Center Talent Search Backlash

July 31, 2014, 9:55 PM by Perry Groten

Events Center Talent Search Backlash

A call for talent for an upcoming open house at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center has created a backlash among some local musicians. The online application to perform at the two-day open house in September says preference may be given to acts that do not require compensation.

The Denny Sanford PREMIER Center's talent search for its upcoming open house has struck a sour note with the mandolin player of the group Union Grove Pickers.

"We've done lots of benefit work before for various causes; this one is one I can't get behind. It just doesn't make sense," musician Josh Rieck said.

Josh Rieck says a multi-million dollar venue like the events center should embrace paying local talent, not give preferences to those willing to work for free.

"Especially that you have to apply and you've got to be vetted and then they still expect that you're going to play for free, it just shows how out-of-touch they are with the local music scene and not supportive of the local music scene," Rieck said.

But open house organizers say some performers will be paid.

"It was never stated that we wouldn't pay people to perform. We asked them if there's a compensation required on the application. I think people took the assumption that we're not going to pay people, that's not the case at all," Denny Sanford PREMIER Center Assistant General Manager Chris Semrau said.

Events center officials say the decision who plays during the open house won't be based on whether or not they want to be paid, but rather on the quality and diversity of the acts.

"The driving force behind the decision-making on who will perform is the type of entertainment, not the compensation they request," Semrau said.

But musicians like Rieck say making compensation a factor in the first place doesn't reflect well in a community that touts the economic benefits of the arts.

Semrau says some performers can't be paid, like those who are with a school organization.

So far, more than 50 people have applied to perform at the open houses.

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