Recession takes a toll on U.S. festivals

Fri Feb 20, 2009 1:06am EST
 
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By Jane Sutton

MIAMI BEACH, Florida (Reuters) - Festivals celebrating everything from high culture to humble farm products are struggling in the United States as sponsors trim their support in tough times and revelers tighten their purse strings.

The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation's biennial poetry festival is billed as America's largest and has drawn prize-winning poets, scholars and word-lovers to New Jersey since 1986.

But the stock market crash cut the value of the foundation's assets by 30 percent, forcing it to cancel the festival for 2010.

"Depending on how things turn out, we may need to reinvent the festival on either a more affordable scale or in a more affordable venue," the foundation's president, David Grant, said in a memo posted on its website.

South Florida's Langerado Music Festival, which drew 25,000 fans a day last year, was canceled due to poor sales of its $75-a-day tickets for a lineup that included rapper Snoop Dogg and indie rockers Death Cab for Cutie in March.

Organizers also blamed the poor economy for their decision to scrap this year's Zellwood Sweet Corn Festival, a May tradition in central Florida for 35 years.

Corporations are scaling back or eliminating sponsorships for festivals to cut costs but also because they are reluctant to be seen underwriting lavish or frivolous events when times are hard, said Steve Schmader, president and chief executive of the International Festivals and Events Association.

"If your event depended on bank sponsorships, they're going to be having that magnifying glass put on them now," Schmader said. "I'd be lying if I said that we aren't seeing people that are certainly doing everything they can to make sure they're holding on to the sponsors they have."   Continued...

 
<p>Fans cheer during the performance of Vampire Weekend at the Coachella Music Festival in Indio, California April 25, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>