The future of a cultural landmark in downtown Macon is uncertain as board members of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame Authority struggle with the decision to keep the museum in Macon or move it to one of three other cities.
On Sept. 30, the Georgia Music Hall of Fame Authority issued a Request For Proposals for the Operation, Management and Location of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame Museum in SB 523, passed by the legislature.
Macon’s Halls of Fame, Inc Athens Economic Development Foundation, Dunwoody Music Conservancy, Inc. and the City of Woodstock each submitted proposals that outlined plans to maintain the museum and make it self-sufficient since the state legislature decided to end funding.
The Music Hall of Fame is currently funded by earned income from ticket admissions, retail sales, rental and events, donations, appropriations from the State of Georgia and public funding from the City of Macon and Bibb County through the local hotel/motel tax.
Dahlonega, the fifth bidding city, dropped its bid before the Evaluation Team, a committee of the Authority, met to score the proposals individually and make its recommendation for which city is the most sufficient location for the museum.
On Jan. 26, the Authority met to decide whether or not to accept the recommendation of the Evaluation Team. Although Macon’s proposal scored the highest in the evaluation, the board voted in a 6-3 decision to not accept the recommendation.
The only votes for the city came from Macon native members Karla Redding-Andrews, Co-Manager, Otis Redding Estate & Project Director, Big “O” Youth Educational Dream Foundation and Vice Chair for the board, Stephen Simpson, President of the Simpson Development Group and Dr. Kirby Godsey, Chancellor of Mercer University.
Other board members decided that Macon’s rank as the highest-scored proposal did not reflect an average high score and that none of the proposals produced a long-term plan for sustainability.
The Georgia Music Hall of Fame opened its doors in Sept. 1996 in downtown Macon, Ga.
Lisa Love, director of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, said the institution of the museum began in 1979 when the Senate Music Industry Committee established and honored its first two inductees, Ray Charles and Bill Lowery.
“Gov. Zell Miller deserves much of the credit for leading the vision to create a permanent repository to house the Georgia Music Hall of Fame and preserve and perpetuate the state’s rich music heritage,” Love said.
Macon’s historical music culture has produced legendary musicians such as Little Richard, Otis Redding, the Allman Brothers and many more.
The building for Capricorn Records, home of albums by The Allman Brothers Band, the Marshall Tucker Band, and Wet Willie, and others, is also located in downtown Macon.
Jessica Walden, Communications and Marketing Director for the College Hill Alliance and Macon native, believes the music and entertainment heritage of the city makes it the ideal location for the Music Hall of Fame.
“There was a reason Macon was chosen—the strong music history,” Walden said. “There is no reason for it not to be here”.
She also believes moving the museum would be devastating to the efforts of the community to revitalize and attract more people downtown.
“We have so much momentum seeing the fruits of our labor, it would really be a blow to the morale in Macon,” she said. “There were a lot of ideas and a vision for a music and entertainment district in Macon so no matter what happens, we still need to find the means to create and support a cultural epicenter downtown”.
The board must make a recommendation to Gov. Nathan Deal on April 15 and a final decision will be made by the state on April 30. Love said no date has been set yet for a meeting to discuss the next steps.
Last month, Macon’s bid proposal to keep the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in the town was accepted.