Archived Story

CIP draws growing crowds

Published 12:57pm Thursday, August 22, 2013

The mission of A Center for the Arts is: To connect artists and audiences by providing the best possible arts experiences that inspire creativity, curiosity, imagination and learning.

There are more than 13,000 people in Fergus Falls.  The last census shows 1/3 are under 19, 1/3 are over 65 and the remaining 1/3 fit in the middle.

Our job is to offer events for all our population.  Everyone is allowed an opinion and has the choice of paying money (or not) to see events at or sponsored by AC4TA.

Recently we received a phone call from a patron who informed us we were not doing enough “good music for old people” at Concerts in the Park (CIP) because “only the old people come on Thursdays.”

We asked this patron if they had attended the Carlisle Band, Mikko or Red Jazz.  After some time it was stated he had only made two of the 10 concerts.

There are 13 “Concerts in the Park”; we offer an incredible variety of area entertainment because we have 13,000 potential concert goers.

The artists at Concert in the Park are paid but not anywhere close to what they are worth.

Some groups choose not to play for the amount of money we can offer and that’s OK.

Musicians have spent years of time and money to do what they do, and deserve to be paid.  The question is always how much.

I have been asked “why don’t you get big names for the free concerts in the park?”

We have had the best attendance that staff can remember for CIP this year.

Last summer at my first concert in the park I remember passing the bucket and receiving $83 dollars at that first show.  I was disappointed but the staff looked at me and said “This is more than we made ALL of last year!”

Each week we take a rough count of attendees, each week I announce that while the concerts are free they cost AC4TA approximately $5,000 to produce. Last year bucket donations were at $1,800, which we put towards this summer’s entertainment and we are so very thankful to those who contribute.

This year we are averaging just under $1 per person and are anticipating around $2,200 by the end of the summer.

This money will be banked and put toward next summer’s entertainment. Again let me state it cost AC4TA $5,000 to produce Concerts in the Park.  Thank you to the sponsors for helping offset additional costs bringing us closer to breaking even.

Without this additional community support CIP would end. Big shows cost big dollars, series performances average $8,000 per performance to produce, and if we sell out a performance at adult prices of $18, we will just break even and still have all our operating bills to pay.

When I worked at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester we did BIG name groups outdoors on Sunday evenings in the summer.

They were also “free” concerts.  The people who run “Down by the Riverside” concerts work and are paid by the City of Rochester with city benefits and retirement packages.

They would raise 10’s of thousands of dollars from community businesses for every concert and put between 5,000 and 15,000 people in the park for a concert.

The concert was paid for before the performer would hit the stage.  They would pay for the rental of the Civic Center and the Union Stagehands then pass the hat and the average was about the same as ours, just under $1 per person.

It has been a great year at CIP, numbers continue to increase as people come together to enjoy our summer evenings.

The diversity of the crowd is wonderful; it is fun to see the families and children along with an older group. Thank you sponsors and all the wonderful people who come to share the music with friends.  There are two shows left — don’t miss out.

Michael Burgraff is the director at A Center For The Arts in Fergus Falls.

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