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October 24, 2014

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Joe Downtown:

Joe Downtown: Plug pulled on music events leading up to Life Cube burning

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Life Cube, a Burning Man art piece, is burned at the 2013 festival.

Less than two weeks ahead of a widely heralded, public performance art exhibit takes place in downtown Las Vegas, a week’s worth of associated entertainment has been called off.

Thousands of people are expected to descend upon the Life Cube on March 21, when the 24-by-24-foot wooden block in the center of a city-block-sized parking lot is set aflame.

But six nights of music leading up to the burning that had been in the planning for months is going to be canceled.

Life Cube founder Scott Cohen and others received an email Tuesday morning from Ashley Goodhue, co-founder of the Life Is Beautiful festival. It simply said, “We need to cancel the programming from Saturday through Thursday.”

Goodhue did not return an email for comment. But sources close to the event said liability and insurance issues were the likely concern.

Life Is Beautiful, a two-day downtown festival in October, is partially funded by Downtown Project, which paid for the lumber used to construct Life and poured the concrete slab upon which the cube sits.

Downtown Project also owns the parking lot, on the north side of Fremont Street between Ninth and 10th streets, where the cube is located.

Life Is Beautiful only recently became involved with the Life Cube event, offering its services to the effort.

Cohen collected $15,000 via an Internet fundraising effort but did not want to reveal the total cost of the event. Volunteers donated much of the labor and did most of the organizing for the event.

He said a meeting between city staff, Life Is Beautiful staff and him was planned for later today to discuss the project.

One of the topics of discussion will be the events, apparently cancelled, leading up to the burn.

For several months, Life Cube organizers had worked to obtain agreements and schedule the performances of about 45 local bands to play for free. The bands were divvied up so that a different genre – spiritual, country, rock, etc. –would be featured from 4 to 10 p.m. starting Saturday.

In addition to the lighted, artistically painted Life Cube itself, the live music was intended to draw attention to the crowning event.

And then there are the “wish sticks.”

When it burns, Life Cube will be full of “wish sticks” – postcards upon which people throughout the Las Vegas Valley have been asked to write their wishes, goals and dreams. The wish sticks will be placed within the Life Cube at its burning.

At last count, 35,000 wish sticks had been distributed throughout the valley, Cohen said recently.

When Life Cube is burned, it and those wishes will lift into the sky in a ceremony of semispiritual significance, Cohen said.

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