Mozart Festival is $400,000 in debt

08/12/09 7:34AM By Ross Sneyd
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(Host) One of northern Vermont's highest-profile music festivals is $400,000 in debt and struggling to survive.

The Vermont Mozart Festival says its ticket sales have been hurt by the economy and especially by the rain.

VPR's Ross Sneyd has more.

(Sneyd) The Mozart Festival stages concerts all around northern Vermont in the middle of the summer.

One weekend the orchestra might perform on the lawn at Shelburne Farms and another under the stars at Kingsland Bay State Park. Concertgoers spread picnics on blankets and take in the music and the scenery.

The outdoor venues change from week to week and that's what make it unique among classical music festivals.

But the outdoor locations are vulnerable to rain, and the weather has played havoc with the schedule last year and this year.

Tim Riddle is executive director.

(Riddle) "The economy may have played a small part. But on the concerts where we had good weather, which were very few, it was actually two of them last year - our sales were actually pretty strong."

(Sneyd) When it rains - or threatens rain - the festival concerts move indoors. In the case of Stowe, the alternative is an ice arena.

And that drives people away. Five of seven major concerts last year were performed indoors. Although most of them had better weather this year, those same five concerts had poor ticket sales this year, which hit the festival's $1 million budget.

Riddle says supporters have gotten together to raise money for the festival to help it survive. The goal is to raise $35,000 by the end of August. The supporters then will match with another $35,000.

Riddle says he's hopeful that there will be a 2010 season.

(Riddle) "I'm gonna say that right now with this matching grant and with the moneys that we see coming in, if we can keep the office open and we can keep the fund-raising going, we will be here next year. We're still planning next year."

(Sneyd) The festival also is planning a series of Christmas concerts for late in the year.

For VPR News, I'm Ross Sneyd.


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