Courtesy Music Midtown

The 2022 Music Midtown festival scheduled to take place in September at Piedmont Park has been canceled.

Rumors had been circulating all weekend on social media that a cancellation announcement was imminent. Local journalist George Chidi posted on his social media Friday that the change in Georgia’s gun law was the reason behind the decision.

Billboard magazine said this morning that they had been informed by industry sources that Georgia gun laws prevented the festival from banning guns at publicly owned Piedmont Park. Many artists have weapons bans included in their appearance contracts.

Gun proponents had been threatening legal action against Music Midtown for months in the wake of Georgia’s expansion of a 2014 law that allows guns in churches, schools, and publicly-owned property.

Music Midtown organizers did not mention the gun issue in its announcement on social media, attributing the cancellation to “circumstances beyond our control.”

“Hey Midtown fans – due to circumstances beyond our control, Music Midtown will no longer be taking place this year. We were looking forward to reuniting in September and hope we can all get back to enjoying the festival together again soon.

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My Chemical Romance, Jack White, Fall Out Boy, and Future were set to headline the September festival.

Atlanta City Council President Doug Shipman called the decision “a sad day” on social media and noted that “public policy has real impacts and in this case –economic and social implications on a great tradition.”

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams said in a statement that the loss of the festival would cost the local economy a “proven $50 million” in revenue and tied the cancellation to her opponent Gov. Brian Kemp’s  “dangerous and extreme gun agenda.”

“It is a great loss for our community that Music Midtown is not taking place this year,” William Pate, president and CEO of the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, said in a statement. “This festival has been an Atlanta tradition for decades and has provided great memories for visitors and residents alike.”

Thomas Smith, a professor at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, said the loss of events like Music Midtown could negatively affect the attractiveness of Atlanta in the long run. Outside events might not want to jump over the hurdles necessary to put on an event, and people looking to move might not consider the metro area if there’s a lack of different types of entertainment. 

“By losing an event like this, it makes the city less attractive in the long run,” he said. 

Smith said companies looking at whether to come to the metro area would take things like entertainment opportunities into consideration. 

“They look at things like what is the overall attractiveness of the city?” Smith said. “Do you have access to entertainment? Do you have access to other types of things that people find attractive? Those kinds of characteristics play into a company’s overall decision matrix.”

Smith said the financial economic impact on the city is not likely to be huge because most people who attend Music Midtown are likely from the area and probably would spend their money on something else in the city. But the festival is said to generate a $50 million economic impact each year, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle

Small food vendors are likely to feel the loss, Smith said. 

“All those people are entrepreneurs,” he said. “There’s going to be an impact for them. The city’s not going to feel a difference, but those people are.”  

This is an evolving story, so please check back for updates.

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.

Sammie Purcell is Associate Editor at Rough Draft Atlanta.