Nov 30, 2022 - News

Hip-hop controversy leads to a Des Moines resignation

A photo at Riverview Park.

A July 1 Rendezvous on Riverview concert. Photo courtesy of Linda Westergaard

A Parks Area Foundation board member who helped schedule lineups for a free Des Moines summer music series resigned earlier this year after a disagreement about hip-hop performances.

Why it matters: Hip-hop's roots and prevalence lies within African American communities.

  • The genre's absence at Rendezvous on Riverview (RoR) ignores the culture and identity of a large portion of the community, Tanner Briggs Faaborg, who is white, argued just before his March 7 resignation from the board.

Driving the news: Last month, Briggs Faaborg provided a two-page statement about his experience to the Greater Des Moines Music Coalition with a note to "feel free to distribute as you see fit."

  • The letter details how he wanted to bring local hip-hop artist B.Well to RoR, which resulted in a heated exchange.
  • He wrote that he was asked by some of the foundation's board members to resign shortly afterward and he obliged.

Of note: B.Well performed this year with the Des Moines Symphony at Yankee Doodle Pops and is scheduled to perform at the free community concert again next year.

The other side: There was discussion about a 2021 musical act — who was not B.Well — that used obscenities and disparaged police, Councilperson Linda Westergaard and Supervisor Tom Hockensmith told Axios Tuesday.

  • Foundation members were discussing its contractual agreement with DSM to provide "family friendly" entertainment at Riverview.
  • They contend that Briggs Faaborg refused to acknowledge their concerns.

State of play: Briggs Faaborg told Axios Tuesday that he has no hidden agenda other than to bring attention to the issue and help diversify future lineups.

  • There was no audio or video recording of the meeting, Polk County and Des Moines city officials told Axios Tuesday.
  • Next year's artists have not been announced.
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