After three years of tightening budgets and cutbacks, the Great American Brass Band Festival is finally able to exhale a little bit this year.
Not that the festival has returned to it’s pre-recession level of funding and spending, but executive director Niki Kincade senses the event is gaining weight again after the lean times of recent years.
“This year, we’ve caught up a little bit,” Kincade said.
That means some of the regular festival activities cut out in past years are finding their way back into the budget. For example, the fairly expensive process of recording the concerts was not undertaken last year, meaning there will be no CD of the 2010 performances on sale this year. But fortunes have changed in 2011.
“We’re definitely recording it this year,” Kincade said.
Though improving, the festival’s funding — roughly $225,000 — has not been restored to the point where all of the previous staples have been restored. Musicians will again be put up in Centre College dorms instead of local motels, at a substantial savings.
“We’d love to support our local hotels, but we can’t afford it at this point,” Kincade explained.
The festival spends between $70,000 and $80,000 a year to bring in bands and performers, which means most musicians are happy enough with their pay that they don’t complain about staying in a dorm room.
“Our performers are well paid,” Kincade said.
The festival also has found some extra money to expand its marketing and publicity efforts, which had suffered in recent years. Even without a big marketing budget, festival attendance has remained constant even when families, like festivals, have had financial struggles.
“Our sales of T-shirts haven’t been hit, and food vendors are coming back, which means they are making money,” Kincade said. Community sponsorship, by far the festival’s biggest financial contributor, has also remained steady.
Even if some local companies such as Philips Lighting have gone by the wayside, others have stepped up to fill the need.
“We’re feeling good about our sponsorship level this year,” she said. “We have not lost any major sponsors in the $5,000 range.”
Kincade said festival committee members are feeling positive that they’ll meet their financial goal.“All we’re trying to do is break even so we can do it again next year,” she said.