Festival boogies out of the red

In an enormous turnaround, the Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival sees a $185,000 profit in 2016.

Fernie-based Shred Kelly performs on the Jack Daniel's Barn Stage at the 24th annual Roots and Blues Festival on Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016.

Fernie-based Shred Kelly performs on the Jack Daniel's Barn Stage at the 24th annual Roots and Blues Festival on Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016.

There were wide smiles and a congratulatory air at the Salmon Arm Folk Music society’s annual general meeting lastWednesday.

There was good reason for that as a loss of $30,000 in 2015 was replaced by a $185,000 profit in 2016.

This means plans are full-steam ahead for an even better event this August 18 to 20th, which will also celebrate the 25th anniversary of the festival and Canada’s 150th birthday celebration.

Society chair Brook Roberts told the 40 people in attendance that a portion of the success stems from greater communication and co-operation among staff, board members and volunteers.

Roberts also gave kudos to community support that allowed the society to turn a dismal few years into a remarkable success including more than $200,000 in grants and $236,205 in in-kind contributions for the 2016 event.

BDO partner Jeff Johnson went over the society’s financial statements, giving credit to society secretary Brenda M’Clellan for making his job so easy.

As well, Johnson praised the team effort saying he remembers when the AGMs were a glum affair. He was happy to be back in a year when the news is so good.

“The balance sheet is the strongest I’ve seen in the five years I’ve been here,” he said, noting ticket sales were up 24 percent last year, from $504, 916 to $625,724, and merchandise sales increased by 15 per cent from $202,666 in 2015 to$231,734 in 2016.

“Don’t take your foot off the pedal,” advised Johnson, whose firm was confirmed as the auditor for 2017.

M’Clellan applauded employees Cindy Diotte, Peter North and David Gonella for their ability to keep to a very strict budget and marvelled at continuing efforts to expand on-site activities.

As well, she was delighted to point out that membership in the Folk Music Society more than doubled last year.

Director Doug Hearn raved about the society’s new office at the corner of Fifth Avene SW and Third Street, built with community support, including $100,000 plus donation in time, labour and money from Shuswap Construction IndustryProfessionals (SCIP).

Other support came from the Salmar ($50,000), SIDIT Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust ($25,000), Shuswap Community Foundation ($6,000), Salmon Arm Folk Music operating funds ($15,000) and about $45,000 time, labour and materials from Roots and Blues volunteers.

“It has been a huge community success; we’re not dressed in mukluks in the basement and bathing suits up in the attic,”Hearn said of the heating/cooling problems staff and volunteers lived with in the former Roots and Blues office on the fairgrounds.

Hearn later gave kudos to the City of Salmon Arm.

“It all started with the city’s support during difficult times and recognizing they wanted to support us into the future so the property was leased to us for $1 a year,” he said.

Mayor Nancy Cooper attended the AGM.

“The city appreciates the board, staff and volunteers and we’re so happy to see the success this year,” she said, noting the festival is a great economic bonus for Salmon Arm. “The amount you bring into this community is awesome and I really enjoy the festival.”

Lody Kieken, who sat on the board for 14 years, 11 of them as chair, was honoured for his years of service. He has moved to Vancouver Island and was unable to attend Tuesday’s meeting, but had shared a few of his favourite memories with Roberts and promised to renew friendships at next summer’s festival.

An election for the board of directors was held and resulted in only one new face Rob Marshall.

Marshall is currently executive director of Community Futures of the Shuswap and has been actively involved in several business and service organizations.

The 25th Annual Roots and Blues Festival and Canada 150 Celebration takes place from Aug. 18 to 20 at the Salmon Arm Fairgrounds.

Members-only earlybird tickets are available until March 31. Get them at www.rootsandblues.ca or by calling 250-833-4096.


Salmon Arm Observer

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