Arts & Culture Blog
Monterey Bay Blues Festival Seeks Help or May Fold
September 14, 2012
At a press conference Friday at their Seaside office on Echo Avenue, Monterey Bay Blues Festival President Julie Paisant and Executive Manager Vivian Waldrup-Patterson announced that the festival is entreating for financial help.
"The severity of the situation is dire," Paisant read from a statement, "and the reality is without immediate support it is likely we will not have another Monterey Bay Blues Festival."
Paisant said the festival is seeking major "six-figure" sponsorships or donations by Nov. 1 or else they may not return next year and that the future beyond that would remain unclear.
She said the combination of the recession of the last few years, the cost for talent, sound stage expenses and renting the venue, Monterey County Fairgrounds, have left them with bills from the 2012 event that they are still paying off. Paisant continued that the board have been having a conversation about the economic realities they were facing since the economic meltdown in 2009.
Paisant said that under a major re-organization, the festival has launched a Friends of the Blues campaign to raise money, have approached many potential corporate sponsors, including Costco and Target (the last corporate sponsor they had was Phillip Morris, Paisant says, which the festival walked away from in the '90s for "ethical reasons"), have cut expenses by up to 62 percent, have liquidated assets, and cut staff from seven to one.
Though other festivals have gone under in recent times, one option the Blues Festival is considering is going from a 3-day to a 1-day event. They are in talks with booking agents about putting together next year's festival, and are also inquiring into doing fundraising shows; their volunteer board members are in talks with "big name" artists to enlist them in possible fundraising show and to lower the expense that comes with booking them for the festival.
"The sad thing is the tough financial times," Paisant said. "The good thing is the artists who want to support us. We get emails that touch our hearts."
According to the statement, the festival's Blues in the Schools program has taught blues music education to "thousands" of students the festival has given "over $2 million" in scholarships and grants.
"Without these festivals—Reggae, Blues, Jazz," Paisant said, "[local] businesses [won't] survive."
The Monterey Bay Blues Festival has brought Taj Mahal, Millie Jackson, James Brown, B.B. King, Al Green and Buddy Guy to the county. Their entreaty for tax-deductible donations are being asked from businesses, corporations, lodging establishments, the public and attendees by calling 831-394-2652 or going to the website, www.MontereyBlues.com.
"People don't want to see us go away," Paisant said of the 27-year festival, which she says she's been part of for 25 years. "Our founders started this in a garage."
The last founding member, Reuben Simpson, who owned a limousine fleet in Seaside, died Aug. 2 this year, which festival vice president Doris Jones says came as a shock to the board and the community. His photo was taped to the front doors of the festival office.