Monday, May 30, 2011

Notes from the Spoleto board meeting

So far, so good

Posted by Erica Jackson Curran on Mon, May 30, 2011 at 1:00 PM

Spoleto Headquarters saw an influx of board members on Monday morning for a mid-festival meeting. With local members as well as many out-of-towners in attendance, nearly every seat in the house was filled. Attendees seemed to have no problem with the fact that they were taking care of business on Memorial Day, however, as they snacked on quiches and exchanged pleasantries.

Mayor Joe Riley kicked things off with a greeting emphasizing the significance of the festival and the board’s crucial role in its success. “Charleston’s history changed in 1977,” he said, acknowledging that many of those responsible were sitting around him. He went on to talk about the importance of the Gaillard renovation (we received a Gaillard Foundation hand-out in our information packets) and the need for state funding, which has gone down significantly in recent years. While the renovation is not a technically related to the festival, the deep-pocketed, arts-loving board members are a good bet for investors in the project.

Martha Ingram and Carlos Evans gave a brief Executive/Finance Committee Report emphasizing the need for more creative internet marketing considering the fact that 55 percent of ticket sales now happen online.

Next up, we received an update on the 2011 program. Chamber Music’s Geoff Nuttall mentioned the controversy surrounding the printing of the series program beforehand, and it was clear the board was split in their opinions. “I like the surprise factor, you have to educate me,” argued one member, while another said that knowing what’s in store will draw more of an informed audience. Nuttall refused to choose sides, but seemed to be on the fence himself. Joseph Flummerfelt, John Kennedy, Nunally Kersh, and Nigel Redden gave updates on other areas of the festival with the general consensus being that things are going well. Redden praised the Sottile Theatre renovation and hinted at the need for another major theater renovation.

Treasurer Ed Sellers said ticket sales are accelerating and close to an all-time high. The Development Committee’s Bill Medich reported that the festival is $79,000 below the $3.2 million budget. Gifts are up, but the number of donors is down, and he emphasized the need to expand the donor pool, especially given the increasingly favorable state of the economy. Spoleto SCENE, which targets young professionals, is one way they’re reaching out to new audiences. Now with 180 members, the group has brought $20,000 to the festival, $13,000 in ticket sales and, given the habits of young people, we were told we can expect a last-minute surge in ticket sales.

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