National Park ServiceU.S. Department of the Interior
Partnership header Making music at the Ashville festival, Blue Ridge Parkway
Music Under the Stars World Festival

Description: Located on land that was once in Mexico, the Chamizal National Memorial, El Paso's National Park, is a park of peace. The Memorial serves as a tribute to the peaceful solution of a long standing border dispute between the United States and Mexico. The park's programming incorporates this theme in their 22-year-long Music Under the Stars World Festival summer partnership with the City of El Paso Arts and Culture Department.

The partnership was created in response to a need for a free, safe venue for family get-togethers during the summer. There is a strong tradition of weekend family picnics and gatherings. The population of the area has limited access to entertainment in quality settings. The park had the space and the professional staff, the City had the cash resources and the planning personnel. Annual festival costs are approximately $130,000, including City staff costs at $60,000 and artistic fees of $70,000.

Music Under the Stars World Festival opened to an outdoor audience of over 6,000 individuals this year. Families gather early to enjoy the open green areas available to the public. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. This year, the season kicked off with the sound of Cuban Danzon with Roberto Borrel y Orquesta La Moderna Tradicion. During the summer, there are 12 performances in addition to the Fourth of July Celebration. The sounds of jazz, salsa, Latin romantic, big band, swing, mariachi, oldies and Texas Swing fill the night time air as Chamizal National Memorial's staff works hand-in-hand with City Arts and Culture personnel to produce the events. The City Arts and Culture personnel is responsible for booking the performers. The park has professional sound and light technicians, as well as interpretation, enforcement and maintenance staff. Park personnel set up and take down the stage, take care of the sound and lights, and distribute trash bags. Maintenance staff helps maintain the appearance of the park and enforcement keeps everyone safe. In recent years, park staff has worked with the City in having interpreters tell the story of Chamizal during intermission breaks. This strengthens visitor awareness and gives them an opportunity to buy-in to this important regional heritage.

There are huge benefits to the park and the service. Each summer, the park and NPS reach over 90,000 visitors during the Music Under the Stars World Festival. The City provides almost $8,000 annually in solid waste management. The limited NPS enforcement staff is augmented during the summer performances by City Police.

The relationship between the City and the park has evolved over its 22-year partnership. Today's relationship has become much more partnership oriented - sharing duties and responsibilities. Today, the City and the park are partners in providing the Music Under the Stars World Festival.

For information about the schedule of performers for Music Under the Stars World Festival, please contact the City of El Paso's Cultural Affairs Division at (915) 541-4481. A copy of the Festival's schedule can also be found online at

Geographic area covered: The Chamizal National Memorial includes a visitor center with a gallery and theater and an outdoor stage. The 55-acre park is located in El Paso, Texas near U.S.-Mexican border on land that was once part of Mexico.

List of partners and relationships: City of El Paso Arts and Culture Department, the El Paso Police Department and the National Park Service.

Accomplishments to date: Twenty-two years of outstanding programming and a strong reputation in the community as a place where people can congregate safely with their family, friends and strangers to listen to great music.

Key success factors: Professional staff, facilities, equipment, strong media support.

Maintenance has augmented its limited staffing with a strong volunteer program and visitors are charged with helping keep their national park clean and safe.

Frustrations: The marriage has not always been perfect. The City does not always communicate in the way the park would like. In technical terms this means that park staff should know well in advance what the needs of any given group are which allows the park to have the appropriate equipment in place in advance of the event and avoids last minute problems. The City in turn has voiced frustration with the park's need to narrowly follow regulatory policies regarding their sponsors limitation on signage, and the park's need to charge overtime if the City does not meet agreed upon time requirements. With large crowds on the weekend, trash pickups and portapottie management are a challenge. These problems are manageable and most likely are not noticed by the visitors.

Most important lessons learned to date: Under the stars has reached iconic status - the community has a high expectation for this summer program. The media wants to support it and does. It is an excellent vehicle to highlight cooperative efforts.

What would you do differently next time: The park is constantly tweaking their relationship. Safety issues are paramount. They recently added a "no glass container" ruling to avoid the possibility of accidents caused by broken glass. They are seeking to increase the effectiveness of their communication levels - they need to know well in advance who will be coming and what their requirements are.

Suggested resource materials(related to the case study):

For more information:

Name: Catherine F. Light
Affiliation: Superintendent, Chamizal National Memorial
Phone/Fax: 915-532-7273

Partnership category(ies) (check all that apply)

Fundraising __; Capital Improvement __; Facility Management __; Trails ___; Design __; Program Delivery _X_; Visitor Services _X_; Tenant Organizations __; Concessioners __; Natural Resources Management/Restoration __; Cultural Resources _X_; Education/Interpretation _X_; Arts _X_; Information Services ___; Transportation __; Mutual Aid __; Fire Management __; Planning ___; Tourism _X_; Community Relations _X_;

Other ____________________________

Prepared by: Virginia Ness Date posted: 8/12/04
Phone: 915-532-7273

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