Beyond the Festival Grounds

Photo is property of the official Coachella Valley Instagram:

Photo is property of the official Coachella Valley Instagram:

Tatiana Uribe, Assistant Editor In Chief

Colorful and zany outfits, hair and jewelry. Top artists, influencers, and public figures almost all in attendance year after year. But what happens when lights and stages are taken down and the vibes leave the landscape?

Throughout the last decade Coachella Music Festival weekends have become an annual staple of the late spring and early summer months. The intense success of Coachella followed similar music festivals like Lollapalooza, EDC, and countless others. People bought into it simply for what it was, a place to go and have fun with friends while listening to good music and possibly getting into some *ahem* adult situations.

For celebrities, lucrative promotional brand deals and $3,000+ VIP areas make the whole 90 degree desert experience much more tolerable.

For the people that live, work, and exist year round in these regions however, no such amenities are anywhere near realistic.

The State of California Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economic Development, and the Economy reported in 2015 that nearly 1 in 5 full time residents of Coachella Valley were living below the poverty line.

A big part of this issue stems from the type of jobs available to residents and the fact that many residents are migrants can in some cases narrow the scope of available jobs even further.

“A lot of times trying to find work as someone who doesn’t have that status its really difficult and it can be scary putting yourself out there but its like you have a family to feed, you have no other options but to take what you can get and that’s usually some manual work,” said a 32 year old full time gardener who doesn’t wish to publish their full identity.

Unlike many would assume because of the huge spotlight Coachella Music Festival carries, tourism and hospitality businesses just don’t make enough throughout the rest of the year to meet the demand for jobs like these.

Apart from service and high skill jobs like healthcare that make up some of the biggest contributors to the economy, the next and sometimes only option for many is fieldwork.

In unincorporated areas of the valley like Oasis and Mecca median family incomes drop as low as $23,291 and the documented unemployment rates can climb as high as 34%.

“This is why local leaders need to rally the support of other elected officials outside of our region in securing the resources needed to improve economic opportunities for all in the Coachella Valley,” said Haddon Libby of the Coachella Valley Weekly in his 2015 article “One in Five Live in Poverty”.

Coachella’s main website lists no interaction with the community surrounding the festival, no involvement in aiding the people whose homes they exploit for almost a week out of the year clogging up roads and services with up to 125,000 tourists.

Although the boom in hotel, hospitality, and tourism services is a plus during those 6 days one could argue that they owe the community some of the trickle down of the $114 million in gross revenue they made in 2017, and every year prior. What else are they going to use it for? Donations to anti-LGBT and anti-abortion organizations? Oh wait…