Archived Story

Contributions help center provide quality programs

Published 7:59am Thursday, August 30, 2012 Updated 12:00pm Thursday, August 30, 2012

As executive director for an arts organization, a good portion of what I do is request funds for programming and operations from businesses, foundations and the general public, I am a professional beggar for my organization. Please understand this article is not chastising groups or individuals for their giving choices. It is your money and you get to choose how or where it is spent. Thank you to everyone who purchases tickets, donates money, time or knowledge to A Center for the Arts.

Knowledge is power and it does make my job easier if people understand why we need to ask for financial help to keep our organization afloat. I have a hard time asking anyone for help in my personal life. For A Center for the Arts, though, I believe so strongly that what we do and what we provide is a fundamental part of a healthy person/healthy community I have no qualms “begging” to keep A Center for the Arts doors open.

Entertainment is not cheap or easy, if it was everyone would do it. Our business, and yes it is a business, is to sell you quality of life. A free concert is anything but free and while I don’t mind asking for money, I do find it hard to ask people in the arts who need to pay rent and buy food to do anything for free.

If we look at our Concerts in the Park for example, this summer we offered 10 free to the public concerts, we have been averaging 200 people per concert. We were happy being able to find sponsors to offer a stipend to this summer’s performers. Everyone who played the free concert did get paid, not necessarily the amounts they have received in the past but paid. AC4TA staff start getting ready for the concert at around 4:30 p.m. on concert Thursdays: we load the equipment (which we purchased) into private vehicles and drive to the park. Thursdays this summer for staff have ended between 11:30 p.m. and midnight. We also have advertising expenses, licensing, insurance and additional staff time.

This summer our costs to produce the free concerts in the park will be in excess of $4,500. In previous years this ran just over $6,500. We have received more individual contributions this summer by passing the bucket than in the previous summers. We have also announced at nearly every concert that the money contributed this summer will be our seed money for entertainers next season.

With one concert to go we are anticipating individual donations of $1,550 or 77 cents per person per concert. We have seen everything from $20 dollars to 20 cents put into our buckets. Remember this is education not criticism. This leaves us $2,950 short to cover our free-to-the-public concerts, and does nothing to build seed money for next season.

Thanks to local sponsors for your help in making up the difference between expenses and revenue for AC4TA Concerts in the Park.

Recently, a couple from the cities wandered into our facility, they took information about our programming and said they can’t wait to come back to see many of the events we are producing because of the caliber of performance, intimacy of the space and the price point. They are used to spending a higher amount per ticket for the quality of entertainment we are providing. Tickets are $18 if I continue to beg, $50 if I don’t. I will continue to ask it; will always be your choice to contribute. Thank you sponsors, thank you members and thank you everyone who chooses to contribute in some form or another. With your continued support we will create today’s memories while preserving yesterdays.

Michael Burgraff is the director of A Center for the Arts.

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