Festival focuses on finances

Lody Kieken, Folk Music Society Chair - Observer file photo
Lody Kieken, Folk Music Society Chair
— image credit: Observer file photo

They may be in the hole but Salmon Arm Folk Music Society directors and Roots and Blues Festival staff are looking ahead to another successful festival in August.

“With the depreciation of our net assets taken into account, we’re looking at a net loss of approximately $50,000,” says treasurer Brook Roberts.

“The amount of tickets was up in 2013 about $60,000 worth but we spent more on performers as well, so the net loss there was about $35,000.”

Roberts says that while tickets sales are already ahead of where they’ve been in the past three years, the festival lost a major sponsor in Sirius. And sponsorship, he says, is critical to the festival.

Roberts is hoping a soon-to-be-released economic development study that is a collaboration between Shuswap Tourism, the Roots and Blues Festival and the tourism management department of Thompson Rivers University will impact the society’s relationship with the city.

Preliminary results of the study released two weeks ago revealed that the 2013 Roots and Blues Festival generated $4,935,022 in total combined spending by both local and non-local attendees.

“We’ve tightened up our budget where we can, but we don’t want to cut back on the artistic lineup,” he says. “We know we have to be sustainable and we have been for 21years.”

Salmon Arm Folk Music Society chair Lody Kieken agrees.

“It’s always a challenge in a cultural event to ride that fine line between artistic success and economic viability,” he says, noting the cost of bringing the artists to Salmon Arm is often as much as their performance fee. “One of our biggest problems is not having enough hotel space, and even camping space is running out.”

Kieken suggests residents could host visiting family members, or even strangers, and suggests the festival could perhaps put a clearinghouse on the website where people could offer accommodation for rent.

“That’s a community spirit we need to grow; we can ask the community to be ambassadors,” he says.

Kieken says that while being a small town is a drawback in terms of accommodation availability, it is also a benefit in that festivalgoers get a chance to see performers from around the world up close at a number of different workshops – something that wouldn’t happen in a larger city.

Kieken applauds outgoing artistic director Hugo Rampen  for doing a “fantastic job” over the past seven-and-a-half years and is looking forward to what newly hired Peter North will bring to the festival.



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