Guest blog post by Dan Ray
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) looks a little different this year.
The annual one-day music festival put on by the Des Moines Music Coalition (DMMC) started in 2006. Featuring all local talent, the mission of the festival is to shine a light on the wealth of talent in Iowa and to expose local audiences to the musicians in their neighborhoods.
“As a local musician, it can be hard to grow your audience locally without getting in front of new people,” said Mickey Davis, the executive director of DMMC. “We hope that part of what we can do with GDP is to get people in a room who see local music, who hopefully attend the next time those bands play in town and continue to build that connection between local audiences and the local scene.”
In previous years, GDP has taken place in multiple small venues in various parts of town. This year, the fest is stationed solely at Hoyt Sherman Place. Because Hoyt Sherman holds just over 1200 people, DMCC decided to focus on filling the venue instead of dispersing an audience amongst several establishments. The festival will feature two stages within Hoyt Sherman, though – the main performance stage and an acoustic stage in the art gallery.
This is Hoyt Sherman’s 100th year as a performing arts center, and that was a driving force for DMCC to book the venue. Davis said he’s seen the evolution of the venue from hosting mostly classical music while he was growing up to the more contemporary acts the venue is booking now.
“Having grown up in Des Moines, that stage was always one of the preeminent stages in Des Moines and central Iowa to see music,” said Davis. “We think there are local artists who are deserving of playing on a stage like that.”
Another factor was the loss of many Des Moines venues over the last few years. In 2018 and 2019 GDP took place at Vaudeville Mews and Fourth Street Theatre, both of which are now closed. In 2022, Gas Lamp, which is closing on July 9, hosted the festival.
Because GDP is now limited to two stages, there are only seven acts at this year’s GDP compared to 12 at the 2022 festival. This year’s event features an afterparty at Carl’s Place with three additional acts, though, bringing the grand total of performers this year to 10.
Although there will be fewer artists at GDP this year, Davis said the amount of local performers DMCC books for events throughout the year will not change. Plus, the boon to having fewer acts is that those acts get paid a living wage.
“We’re trying to set an example that you should pay your artists what they’re worth,” said Davis.
GDP takes place this year on Saturday, April 15. For more information on GDP and to see this year’s lineup and purchase tickets, visit DMCC’s website.