Monday, February 12, 2018

2018 Festival Will Be Skipped!

In case you’ve not heard, we’ll be skipping the 2018 Oregon Children’s Choral Festival.

As most of you probably know, Jennifer and I put on the festival because we love kids and we love for kids to sing together and for each other. We do so at our own personal risk, cost and investment of many hours of time – And we love it!

We’ve always promised ourselves that as long as the festival at least broke even, and didn’t cost us money out of pocket to put on, we would keep doing it. We’ve done it for the past 6 years at a few dollars above that line, as long as we don’t pay ourselves for the month and a half of time it takes to get ready for it and put it on ;-)

Sadly, last year’s festival was well below breakeven and has forced us to take time to re-evaluate things.

Rather than end the festival, we have decided to skip the 2018 festival, take some time to reassess our options and see if we can find a way to continue again in 2019.

When the festival was started 35 years ago, the cost was $8 per singer. In today’s adjusted values, that would be about $23 per singer. (So you can see where part of the problem is ;-).  This combined with just over 400 singers (one choir canceled at the last min) instead of what was once as many as 3000 singers before all the cuts to school music programs, we are finding the cost of doing the festival at the Hult to be un-sustainable for the level of interest/participation that the Festival attracts.
In order to make things work, we’ll need to charge more and/or get more singers to attend, or move the festival to a smaller and more affordable venue. We’ll be exploring those options this year and let you all know how things shape up for 2019.

Jennifer & I have always viewed the festival as your festival and your kid’s festival. And while we dearly love it and it is a highlight of our whole year, if you feel it’s no longer essential to your choirs. Maybe you would rather us spend time composing a new song each year? Please let us know your thoughts so we can refocus our time and energy elsewhere if needed. If you value it as much as we do, then please DO contact me with your thoughts/ideas about a possible venue change.

The Hult Center is a fantastic, world class venue that has been the festivals home for over 35 years and even considering moving it makes my dizzy. But we know that many schools struggle for their kids to come up $15 and $20 or more might be more than they are willing or able to do.

We’ve tried lots of different promotional methods, but since the festival operates at a zero gain, or actually a loss if our time is considered (because I am unable to make money for the month and half before the festival), we don’t have any marketing dollars to throw at that problem. We’ve been unable to get business sponsorship or grants (we are not a non-profit and out attempts to team up with non-profits in that past have not worked out).

We are not able to directly invite other directors because school IT departments block our emails to them as a matter of policy.

So we need some new, more effective ways to get the word out and get more attendees. We hope you can help and I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

See you all in April of 2019!

Bruce & Jennifer
Festival Directors


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