Mike Diegel, a Silver Spring resident who frequents the Fillmore and chairs an advisory committee on the Silver Spring Arts and Entertainment District, acknowledged that the county had not done a good job showcasing the venue’s availability to community groups. “It’s not terribly visible on the Web site so that is something that hopefully could be improved,” he said.
Yeager said that the Fillmore has hosted 10 other charitable events since opening, which he said was “well above the industry norm,” and that it was the county’s responsibility to coordinate those required by the lease. “The selection and booking of these events is coordinated by the county. We remain committed to this process,” he said.
The county and Live Nation have also not come to terms on how to hold an annual charitable auction promised as part of Leggett’s agreement.
“The Fillmore has been collecting signed memorabilia from various artists who have performed there over the past couple of years that will be used as auction materials at the event being planned,” Bell-Pearson said. “We anticipate coordinating the auction with two possible events, such as the Executive’s Ball for the Arts and the Silver Spring Jazz Festival.”
Leggett spokesman Patrick Lacefield said that despite the lease requirements for community uses, the Fillmore was not a good venue for many charitable events. “This is not a space where you can have a Boy Scouts meeting or a civic association meeting. There are other places for that. This is a unique space,” he said.
Lacefield said the primary focus of the Fillmore was as an economic development engine, and that it had successfully contributed to night life and a dining scene that now has more than 20 restaurants.
But the Fillmore’s impact as an economic development initiative is difficult to measure.
Diegel, the community leader, said he has heard of fans coming from as far as Pennsylvania and West Virginia for shows and then staying the night at local hotels. “It gets more people to Silver Spring. It gets more people to see what we have to offer,” he said.
But Glass, a former president of South Silver Spring Neighborhood Association, said he was still waiting for the stretch of Colesville Road around the venue to develop the restaurants and night life the community expected. “We are still waiting for the great promises of the Fillmore to materialize,” he said.
The lease also entitles the county to six free tickets to every performance.
It isn’t unusual for municipalities to receive charitable tickets as trade-offs for subsidizing sports or entertainment venues. Indeed, thousands of youths receive free or reduced-price tickets to Nationals, Wizards and Redskins games every year.
There is no stipulation that the tickets given to the county be pegged to charity, and most have gone to county officials.
In the first 20 months the venue was open, from September 2011 through April of this year, officials received 476 tickets to Fillmore events, according to county records, including shows by D.C. rapper Wale and a highly sought-after New Year’s Eve bash put on by Philadelphia hip-hop group the Roots.
Staff from more than a dozen agencies or offices, as well as two council members’ offices, have received tickets to shows, the records show. With ticket prices averaging between $25 and $55 each, plus $8 in fees per seat, the tickets received and forfeited fees over that period are likely worth over $20,000.
For instance, Leggett’s office had received a total of 82 tickets to 26 shows through April, including two tickets to Anthrax and four to the Roots. Leggett spokesman Lacefield said the county executive had only attended opening night.
“The county executive has not been involved in distribution of Fillmore [tickets] personally,” Lacefield said.
Council members Nancy Floreen and Hans Riemer (D-At Large) also each received tickets to two shows. Floreen said she attended neither and Riemer said he attended only a show last year by Swedish metal band Messhuggah.
Darian Unger, a former chairman of the Silver Spring citizens advisory board, called the ticket arrangement “disappointing to the point of being skeezy.”
“It’s disappointing and it just gives the aura of corruption,” he said. “What a terrible portrayal that gives. I would hope that public officials would be above that sort of thing.”