Two long-running free Brooklyn summer concert series are no more — at least for 2017.
Organizers behind the decades-old Seaside Summer Concert Series in Coney Island and Martin Luther King Jr. Concert Series at Wingate Park announced on Friday, July 7 that the shows would not go on this summer in a statement posted to Facebook pages for both.
“After over 30 years of free concerts in the summer, the Seaside Summer Concert Series and the Martin Luther King Jr. Concert Series will not be presenting any shows in the 2017 season,” a post made to both pages read. “We wish to thank our many corporate and product sponsors who have generously funded these concert series over the years, many of them from the beginning.”
Thanks were also given to city and state elected officials for their support as well as to all the bands who have performed, the crews that have put the shows together and all of the volunteers that helped to make each show happen.
“And a special thank you to the hundreds of thousands of audience members that have attended and enjoyed these wonderful shows,” the statement read on.
According to reports, the announcement comes just one day after news broke that American Express is suing the concert organizers for $36,000, though it is unclear whether or not the suit is the reason behind the dual-cancellation.
While the Coney Island series has had it fair share of setbacks (the summer concert series was also cancelled in 2014 and was criticized for its late start in 2015), the Wingate Park showcase has continuously boasted big names like Biz Markie. Headliners at last year’s Seaside series — its first at the new Ford Amphitheater — included Kool and the Gang, Rick Springfield and Erica Campbell.
Both concert series were founded by former Borough President Marty Markowitz in the late ’70s and early ’80s, respectively, when he was a state senator, and were run through a not-for-profit separate from the beep’s office. In 2014, the torch was passed to now-Borough President Eric Adams.
One of the motivating factors in the construction of the new Coney Island amphitheater was to give a permanent home to the Seaside concert series, which had raised hackles among nearby residents when it took place in Asser Levy Park.
Brooklynites were quick to react to the news on Facebook.
“These shows at both venues were gems,” remarked one concert-goer. “Ever since Marty started talking about how wonderful a new amphitheater was going to be…I knew the end was near.”
Another longtime attendee was particularly shocked, noting that they had seen another post just yesterday that indicated Seaside shows would begin as soon as July 21.
“This is sad,” said another user in response to Seaside’s Facebook post. “[This is] a tradition that I always looked forward to every summer as a kid and adult. It’s a shame.”
The organization behind both series has not yet responded to a request for comment, however, Adams has stated that he is looking for a way that the shows can go on.
“As has been reported by their non-profit organizer, the Martin Luther King Jr. Concert Series and Seaside Concert Series, both of which I have been proud to host and support in years past, will not be presenting shows this summer. I am vigorously working to identify and secure an organizer that can make free performances happen this summer in our communities,” he said. “As I have shared in the past, the office of the Brooklyn Borough President has no control over either concert series; they have been run by independent non-profit organizations that determined the number of shows each year and who would perform in those shows.”
Councilmember Mark Treyger, who represents Coney Island, shared similar sentiments.
“Ensuring that our community has access to free, quality entertainment has been a priority of mine, and, with the assistance of New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, I have already secured funding to support concerts in Coney Island this summer,” he said in a post on Facebook. “However, I have no direct control over the concerts, which are produced by an independent non-profit organization. Unfortunately, as has become clear, the prior non-profit organizer of the Seaside Summer Concert Series lacks the capacity to continue putting on the free public events that were guaranteed as part of building the Ford Amphitheater.
“I am working diligently with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, City Hall, [the Economic Development Corporation] and the proprietors of the Amphitheater to secure a new organizer and a sustainable model to ensure that residents have the free, live entertainment that they deserve, this summer and in summers to come,” he concluded.