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Made in America Festival Has a ‘Bright Future in Philadelphia,’ Says COO of Jay-Z’s Roc Nation (EXCLUSIVE)

After a six-day standoff that found heated words flying between Jay-Z and the Philadelphia mayor’s office, the two sides came to an agreement that will see Jay’s annual Made in America festival remaining on the city’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway, where it has been staged since 2012, for the next “several” years, according to Desiree Perez, COO of Jay’s Roc Nation.

Last week a rep for the mayor’s office told a local media outlet that the festival will have to be held elsewhere in the city in 2019 due to the costs — apparently without discussing the matter with Jay’s team first — adding that after six years, tourism has grown, so “the need for an event of this scale at this location may no longer be necessary.” In response, Jay fired off an angry op-ed that was published Wednesday in the Philadelphia Inquirer; the mayor told reporters that he wanted to keep the event in the city but that holding it on the Parkway had caused operational difficulties in its past. However, all sides reached an agreement today.

“The weekend was tense, but we got things done and today was very good,” Perez told Variety from Philadelphia, just hours after meeting with Mayor Kenney and several additional city government officials. “It’s a very positive outcome, with a bright future for Made in America at the Parkway in Philadelphia from 2019 on.”

While Perez allowed that she “was prepared for the worst going in,” during the meeting she found Kenney “refreshingly direct” in how he addressed the problems — which largely involved matters such as noise levels, parking, and the length of time it takes production crews to build and strike the festival’s staging.

“He came out straight away and said that there was a huge misunderstanding, and that it was a mishap that no one from his administration and Roc Nation had ever met or sat down face-to-face before this,” she said. “The mayor had community concerns that are natural whenever you have huge events coming into a city. They wanted our commitment that we would address those concerns — and we want to address them and have the community be happy with us and our decisions. We want to be part of the community — we don’t wish to just come in for the festival, then leave. The mayor wants us there, and on the Parkway.”

She added that Jay-Z is “happy about the outcome of the meeting.”

“I am greatly appreciative of everything that Made in America has done for the City of Philadelphia and I remain committed to its continued success,” Kenney said in a statement. “The Made in America festival belongs in Philadelphia — the birthplace of our country — and I’m optimistic that we can turn an unfortunate misunderstanding into a positive outcome and even stronger event.”

“We’re happy that the festival is staying in Philadelphia and on the Parkway, and we just want to move forward from there,” Perez concluded. “That was the first thing that the Mayor said to us when we walked into the meeting — he may have looked at Made in America, at first, as part of a prior administration. But I told him, ‘This is something that we brought to this city, it doesn’t belong to any administration, and whoever inherits it is getting something great — like a monument.’”

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