Innovation Arts acquires two major Island festivals
Innovation Arts and Entertainment, the company that brings thousands of concertgoers to the Island during the summer for Beach Road Weekend, is acquiring the Martha’s Vineyard Oyster Fest and the Martha’s Vineyard Food and Wine Festival.
The news came as Innovation CEO Adam Epstein made a number of big announcements during a “business after hours” event for the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce at the Cardboard Box Wednesday evening. “It means a lot to be in front of you all. It’s emotional and hard to describe,” Epstein began. In 2019, Epstein said, his company did $40 million in annual sales. That fell to $3 million the following year, as COVID shut down most live events in Massachusetts and across the country. “That gives you an image of the impact of the pandemic on live events; it’s no more apparent than right there. We struggled, we made it through, I kept my staff on, it was important to keep us together, we are still standing,” Epstein said.
Despite the pandemic, Epstein noted some milestone successes of Innovation on the Vineyard, including solidifying a successful summer concert series, bringing international touring artists to the Vineyard to perform, and bolstering local industry in all forms.
“We invested locally and partnered with another local business to rebuild the live music venue right across the street at the Loft,” he said. “We have created a successful three-day Beach Road Weekend music festival, which is bringing thousands of people from all different states and six countries to this Island in August.”
Epstein expressed his pride in finally being able to expand the musical offerings into the shoulder season and beyond, to elevate the Island even when the summer crowds aren’t around. With this, he announced that Innovation will acquire Oyster Fest and the Food and Wine Festival. The Food and Wine Festival will be moved from the fall to a time in May 2023, and Innovation will be looking to collaborate with Island industries to offer travel packages and tickets to festival events, all within the same point of sale.
More than $1.5 million in hotel rooms have been reserved for Beach Road Weekend alone, and Epstein said he looks forward to creating the same sort of buzz with the other events that he will now be organizing.
Another big announcement Epstein made was a new ongoing music event, called the Vineyard Campout. The event includes weekend-long concert events with the same band performing multiple nights at the Loft, and the audience will be staying at the Martha’s Vineyard Campground for the duration of each string of performances. The Vineyard Campout will take place each weekend in September, and Epstein anticipates eventually converting the event into a hotel-promotion event in October and November.
Additionally, Epstein noted that the Martha’s Vineyard Concert Series is back, and will be hosting at least 30 different concerts at the Loft, the Old Whaling Church, and the Performing Arts Center, with noteworthy names like David Bromberg, Don McLean, Graham Nash, Tom Rush, and more.
As far as this year’s Beach Road Weekend goes, the festival is nearly sold out, with more than 10,000 three-day passes already sold. “Enthusiasm is everywhere. My staff and friends remind me daily how excited we are to show off the Island we love,” Epstein said.
To date, Innovation has only been selling three-day passes, but starting in May, they will be selling a limited number of one-day passes exclusively to folks on the Vineyard.
“Islanders get first access to them, so for two days in May, day passes will only be available in-person on the Island,” Epstein explained. Day passes available during those two days will be significantly discounted from the original online price.
Epstein’s final announcement was that the showing of “Jaws” accompanied by the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra that kicked off the 2019 festival will return this year, but this time it will be free to the public. He asked business owners in the room to help ensure the “Jaws” event remains free in the coming years by offsetting the approximately $75,000 cost. Any donations will be made tax-deductible to the Friends of the MV Concert Series.
“Jaws In Concert” will be held on Thursday, August 25. Beach Road Weekend takes place from Aug. 26 to 28, with the Avett Brothers headlining the Friday show, Beck headlining the Saturday show, and Wilco headlining Sunday.