Mark Rendell

Folk On The Rock’s Second Rocky Year

Another year of losses means a "conservative" approach for the music festival next year.

Folk on the Rocks lost tens of thousands of dollars for the second year in a row, according to numbers presented at the society’s AGM last night. This year’s net loss came to $54,402 – down from the mammoth $114,788 loss in 2014, but significant enough to provoke “a very conservative budget” for the coming year in hopes of stemming further losses.

Nonetheless, FOTR society president Ryan Fequet focused on the positive when presenting the numbers – namely, that the society lost only about half as much as it did last year.

“We’re definitely on the up,” Fequet told EDGE. “We’re past the transition phase [with executive director David Whitelock who came on board for the 2014 festival] and on to the building phases.”

Certainly, revenue growth was positive, increasing by almost $115,000 dollars compared to last year. The major gains came from ticket revenue (overall sales were down, but increased prices offset this significantly) and increased beverage and food sales, likely thanks to longer hours in the beer garden and more expensive beer. They also managed to boost “donations, grants and contributions” this year by around $40,000, compared to the previous year. But that’s still about $30,000 less than in 2013 (the festival lost $70,000 in this category between 2013 and 2014.)

“It was an interesting year in the corporate community,” said Fequet. “We weren’t able to maintain all sponsors at the level we wanted to but were able to attract new sponsors.”

But along with revenue, expenses also continued to rise. The biggest increase came from performer expenses, which increased by roughly $38,000 compared with 2014. This growth is not overly surprising, given that it was the festival’s 35th anniversary. However, it was on top of a $40,000 increase in performer expenses the previous year.

Altogether, far more money went out the door then came in 2015 – half as much as last year, but still more than ten times higher than the relatively small net loss of $5000 the festival saw in 2013.

How many more years can the festival take losses of this size? Fequet didn’t have a particularly clear answer, and Whitelock was absent from the AGM, apparently due to being sick. Fequet did say, however, that the next year’s budget will be more “fiscally observant” and will hopefully yield a $30,000 surplus. The board hopes to recoup some costs by changing “staff structures” and changing the “strategy to populate the [performer] lineup,” but Fequet says these changes won’t affect the festival-goer’s experience.