Burlington’s Sound of Music festival is broke, asking city for $200,000 loan


Published September 19, 2022 at 10:43 am

Despite nearly doubling the previous record for attendance, Burlington’s Sound of Music is broke and asking the city for a loan.

Organizers say increased costs and fewer sponsors impacted the bottom line of this year’s event and they’re requesting a $200,000 loan to make it to the end of the year.

According to the funding request councillors will consider at tomorrow’s (Tuesday, Sept. 20) meeting, 416,000 people attended this year’s 43rd annual Sound of Music Festival in downtown Burlington and Spencer Smith Park.

It also estimates the financial impact on the city at more than $30 million, up from the previous record of $12M in 2019.

However, “The pandemic hit live entertainment and the non-profit industry with force,” said the report, authored by CEO Myles D. Rusak and chair Ashlee Livingstone. “

As we are both, SoM’s unpredictable revenue sources turned out to be less than required. Key sponsor accounts did not weather the pandemic and we lost more than $250,000 in historical partnership funding.

“Further, given the proximity to the recent wave of lockdowns and uncertainty in early COVID recovery days, ticket sales for our fundraising event Live on the Lake were well below projections. The revenue decline, coupled with supply chain/supplier cost recoupment, created a perfect storm which eroded our opportunity to turn a profit in 2022. As a result, we will not break even this year and need to take necessary steps to ensure we don’t lose momentum for 2023.”

The Sound of Music board is asking Burlington for $200,000 and has committed to “implementing some early revenue strategies and, where possible, cost-cutting without sacrificing overall quality and audience experience. We have identified areas behind the scenes that are long overdue for trimming in order to run a leaner and more efficient festival.”

City staff are recommending council approve the request.

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