- Associated Press - Thursday, July 31, 2014

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - Some Sioux Falls musicians say it’s insulting to be urged to play for free at the Denny Sanford Premier Center’s soft-opening event.

Officials with the city and SMG, the company that’s managing the new $117 million facility, put out a call to artists this week, looking for local bands and entertainers to perform at a two-day public open house in mid-September.

The application on the city’s website says the event will be free to the public and there is a limited budget, so “preference may be given to acts that do not require compensation,” the Argus Leader newspaper reported (http://argusne.ws/1s6zwdH ).

Applicants are asked to check a box indicating whether they are willing to play for free. If they want to be paid, they’re asked to list how much and say whether that price is negotiable.

That makes artists feel guilty for asking for money, said Geoff Gunderson, a guitarist for Juke Box Zeroes who has been playing the Sioux Falls scene for decades. He said he would have considered playing the soft-opening event for a nominal fee but feels it’s out of place for a $117 million venue to seek free acts.

Other artists said they feel the same way.

“It just says that they have no value in their local musicians,” said Thomas Hentges, who performs as Burlap Wolf King.

SMG General Manager Terry Torkildson said he was surprised by the reaction from artists.

“The event is about seeing the events center,” he said. “Obviously, we in no way meant to insult anyone.”

The open houses are scheduled Sept. 19-20. The center will have its grand opening Oct. 3 with performances by country music superstars Jason Aldean and Florida Georgia Line.

___

Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com