Crowds enjoy the show on the Main Stage at the 2017 Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival. Observer file photo.

It’s all in the black for Roots & Blues

While they didn’t rake in the dough, the 2017 event made a modest profit

This team is hoping and planning for a hat trick.

With two consecutive years of being in the black, Roots and Blues Festival organizers are looking to score a third win this August.

Members of the Salmon Arm Folk Music Society board and employees met Jan. 17 at an AGM attended by 23 people, 12 of them board members and three employees.

Board chair Brook Roberts reported the society has created and continues to follow its strategic plans, which is showing positive results.

Revenue for the 2017 festival were $1,680,412, up from the 2016 total of $1,555,453. But expenses far exceeded 2016, rising to $1,635,190 from $1,370,635 the previous year.

This dropped the profit from $184,818 in 2016 to $45,222 in 2017.

Treasurer Brenda M’Clellan explained there were several unforeseen and one-time expenses: the theft of several items at the folk music society’s quonset hut at the west end of town, the move from the fairgrounds to the new SCIP House and purchase of Big Steel boxes to house items in a secure location. As well, there were additional costs for the Canada 150 and 25th Anniversary celebrations.

Expressing appreciation for everyone involved in creating the festival, M’Clellan said she is pleased with the society’s financial position.

“We’re starting the year on a positive note,” she said. “We are looking at all the areas where we had increases and we will continue to monitor as we go.”

BDO rep Jessica Wan Chung Wah led those in attendance through a review of the society’s financial statements, noting the company is satisfied they are “in accordance with Canadian accounting standards for non-profit organizations.”

Pleased with general reaction to last year’s festival, artistic director Peter North said he believes strong ticket sales early in 2017 is, in part, based on the assurance that the festival will provided a weekend of high-calibre talent and variety and a safe and enticing environment for roots music fans of all ages.

“Word continues to come back from agents, managers and artists hoping to play the festival, that Roots and Blues is a great time and that it is all about the music,” he said. “Mystic Bowie of Talking Dreads continues to rave about what is going on here and Ricky Skaggs stated, ‘there is just something really special about this place, and yes I want to come back with Bruce Hornsby next time.’”

North offered kudos to chair Brook Roberts for noticing Irish Mythen will be in the west in February and has agreed to play Salmon Arm on Feb. 14.

As an example of the unexpected hits at every festival, North noted the crowd Mythen drew at a Sunday afternoon concert at the Blues Stage was the largest any longtime associate with the festival has ever seen.

“This year’s lineup should again cover a lot of the musical bases in roots music but it’s pretty hard to cover everything in one year,” he said. “I think our audience will be pleased with who we have booked as the names roll out over the next few months.”

Executive director David Gonella thanked North for creating such a great festival on a shoestring budget.

He said he is proud of the changes that were made to the festival grounds last year.

While ticket sales were strong early in the year, organizers believe the B.C. wildfire season affected sales in the run-up to the festival.

Everyone who spoke mentioned the inability of presenting a successful festival without the army of volunteers who show up every year.

Volunteer committee member Elaine Holmes reported that five-, 10- and 15-year pins were presented to and warmly received by volunteers at the 2017 festival and will be a regular occurrence.

Salmon Arm Coun. and Roots and Blues liaison Alan Harrison congratulated the organization on the hard work and synergy between board and staff.

“After two good years it’s easy to get complacent, but that’s not happening here,” he said, noting his pleasure that meetings and actions are led by the strategic plan.

As no newcomers ran for a place at the table, the board remains the same as last year, with M’Clellan, Alan Bates, Rob Marshall and Ian McDiarmid being confirmed for another three-year term.

Discussion about length of terms board members can sit will be up for discussion later this year.

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