Members of the newly elected Salmon Arm Folk Music Society board for 2020 include, in front, Brook Roberts, Brenda M’Clellan, Valorie Ellis-Peet, Alan Bates and Kimm Magill-Hofmann and, in the back row, Doug Hearn, Joyce Kenoras, Ian McDiarmid, Elaine Holmes, Rob Marshall, Steve Atkins, Bernd Hermnski. (Barb Brouwer photo)

Ticket sales dip but revenue up for 2019 Salmon Arm Roots and Blues

741 volunteers credited for making music festival possible

Barb Brouwer


It was a very good year for the 2019 Roots and Blues Festival.

The number of tickets sold for last year’s festival was down slightly over 2018 while revenues overall increased due to increased grant funding and strategic initiatives to boost food, beverage and merchandise sales.

Revenues were almost $1.9 million but expenses were close to $1.8 million, leaving a net profit of $118,000.

The financial report was presented to the Jan. 29 AGM of the Salmon Arm Folk Music Society by Angie Spencer of BDO Canada Ltd. Following Spencer’s presentation, society members voted to retain the firm to provide the annual independent practitioner’s review for another five-year term.

And there was more good news.

In his report to the board, festival artistic director Peter North told the 40 attendees that he continues to receive positive comments from festival artists and patrons.

“I will stand by the notion that our workshops stand up to those of any festival, including those that have substantially bigger artistic budgets than we do,” he said.

North attended eight other festivals last year, checking out performers and making connections.

Co-booking artists continues with other B.C. and Alberta festivals, which helps cut expenses.

“Judging by the number of applications from artists and agencies since September, the Roots and Blues name continues to be better known in this country and abroad,” he said.

“I don’t think I am exaggerating if I said at least 2,000 acts have made contact with us.”

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David Gonella, executive director of the festival, presented the nuts and bolts on the operational side.

Among the highlights of the 2019 festival was the 741 volunteers who helped make the event possible, with 36 per cent volunteering for the first time.

Efforts were made to make the camping experience easier for patrons, streamlining the process so they could be set up and be on-site enjoying the festival as quickly as possible.

“We introduced a four-day pass and seven-day campsite reservation and patrons have been given the option to reserve campsites together with family and friends,” said Gonella.

As well, the campground area was expanded, which allowed for a fourth campsite. But spaces in the sites were reduced from 175 in 2018 to 135 in 2019.

Phase one of a plan to reduce reliance on gas-powered generators has been completed and work will continue with the City of Salmon Arm, BC Hydro and the Salmon Arm and Shuswap Lake Agricultural Association to complete the next two phases of providing electricity to the south fairground property.

Objectives for the 28th annual festival this year, scheduled for Aug. 13-16, include increasing on-site accessibility for those with mobility issues, continuing waste reduction efforts and developing new strategies to attract young families. As well, organizers are looking for a sponsor for the Shade Stage.

Following reports, elections were held to fill four available seats at the board table. Long-time directors Doug Hearn, Bernd Hermanski, Elaine Holmes and Joyce-Kenoras Pooley won against newcomer Marianne VanBuskirk.

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