vt mozart festival – finale.

Press release:

VERMONT MOZART FESTIVAL CLOSES ITS DOORS

Burlington, VT (12/21/2010 at 3:20pm)

After 37 summers, the Vermont Mozart Festival will be closing its doors on or before January 15th. Since 1974, the Festival featured world-class performances in beautiful and historic locations around the state. Countless generations of family and friends came together for three weeks each summer to enjoy enchanting classical music under the stars. In recent years, though, the organization began to incur debt from which it simply could not recover.

“In spite of the fact that public support has increased dramatically over the past six years, we have not seen a continuing interest in programming,” said Executive Director Timothy R. Riddle. “The audience has been steadily decreasing. We engaged a wonderful new artistic director to revamp programming, in the hopes of increasing ticket sales. Unfortunately, due to lack of financing, the Festival was unable to continue to move forward with these plans long enough to allow these changes to have an impact.”

Riddle was hired on as Development Director in 2005 and promoted to Executive Director in 2007, leading efforts to increase individual and corporate donations and put the organization back into the black.

But as fundraising improved, ticket sales dropped. After two years of heavy rain and economic recession, the Festival’s ticket sales had sunk well below expected revenues. Riddle and Board President Richard Parlato announced during August 2009’s Grand Finale concert that the Festival was running a deficit of greater than $400,000.

The announcement prompted a swift response from Festival supporters, which helped reduce the deficit by half. The Festival aimed to further reduce debt in 2010 through increased publicity and accompanying ticket sales, by ramping up media coverage and announcing a talented new artistic director, Israeli pianist and composer Gil Shohat. Even the notoriously unpredictable Vermont weather cooperated, with Festival patrons enjoying some of the nicest midsummer evenings in recent memory.

However, 2010 ticket sales still remained lower than expected. The Festival was left with a deficit that had crept back up to more than $325,000. Several months were spent pursuing financing with longtime presenting sponsor, People’s United Bank. Vendors patiently waited for payment, but when it became evident that the bank loan request was declined, the organization had no choice but to cease operations.

“I want to thank all our friends and partners for their years of support. The music played a major role in my life and I know in yours. I can assure you this has been neither a simple nor easy decision for the Vermont Mozart Festival board. I will miss all the wonderful summer nights and the magic of the music in our beautiful state,” said Parlato.

The Festival consistently had been named by the Vermont Chamber of Commerce as one of Vermont’s Top Ten Summer Events, and was regarded by its attendees as one of their favorite summer rituals. The Festival was also voted 2010 Best Outdoor Concert Series by Seven Days Magazine and was listed as a Top-Rated Arts Nonprofit by GreatNonprofits.org earlier this year.

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