September 22, 2015
MEDFORD, OR — The 2015 Britt season saw a solid response from the public, with steady ticket sales and strong business support. Britt will continue to build on this momentum as new projects are planned for 2016.
“I am always amazed at the adventurous spirit of Oregonians—they don’t let a little smoke or 100-degree temperatures deter them from their love of music and commitment to Britt,” says Britt President & CEO Donna Briggs. “Going into our 54th season, Britt is in perpetual motion and we are already busy booking an impressive range of artists for 2016.”
Out of 35 concerts on Britt’s main stage, overall attendance was nearly 58,000, with an average attendance of 1730 per concert. Eight concerts sold out completely. Overall attendance numbers remained steady with previous years, reaching around 60,000 since 2011.
The solid numbers came through despite challenges this summer. Two concerts were cancelled by artists: Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo, and The Turtles. No additional concerts were cancelled because of the smoky conditions caused by nearby forest fires, but the unfavorable weather conditions did slow down ticket sales during August. However, as soon as the skies cleared, ticket sales picked back up through the remainder of the season.
Although the main stage performances are over for the season, Britt will host two more concerts this year: Patchy Sanders, a southern-Oregon based folk band, will play on the Performance Garden stage this Friday, September 25, and Moody Little Sister, an up-and-coming folk/soul duo, will perform an indoor concert on the Britt stage on Friday, October 23. Ticket information for both of those concerts is available at brittfest.org.
Overall, ticket sales cover just 60% of Britt’s operating expenses, on average, for the pops season, and 33% for the Classical Festival. As a non-profit organization, Britt relies on contributed income to cover the gap. Business partners contributed $244,000 this year, a 5% increase over 2014, and a record breaking number for the fourth year in a row. Grant funding through foundations continues to grow and support our expanding education programs.
In the 2015 Classical Festival, Music Director Teddy Abrams led the orchestra in seven performances. The Opening Night performance of Carmina Burana, which, along with a full orchestra, included singers from the Rogue Valley Chorale, Southern Oregon Repertory Singers and the San Francisco Girls Chorus. This totaled about 250 musicians—the largest-ever number of performers on the Britt stage at one time. Despite the heat and the smoky conditions, the performance of Carmina Burana was named as a favorite of the season by many patrons. The season also included artistically ambitious performances, including the Britt premiere of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and a world premiere song cycle Bull Frogs Croon.
In 2016, the Britt Orchestra will celebrate the majesty of Crater Lake National Park, as the National Park Service celebrates its centennial. Abrams will lead members of the Britt Orchestra in unique performances at Crater Lake, with the dramatic panorama of the entire lake as the backdrop. Composer Michael Gordon has been commissioned to write a piece inspired by Crater Lake, which the Orchestra will premiere in concerts on July 29 and 30, 2016.
In education news, Britt’s first class of Arts Career Exploration (ACE) apprentices completed their year of study with Britt, which culminated in a student-curated performance by the Portland Cello Project last June. The 2016 class of ACE apprentices has begun its work with Britt, attending group sessions and job shadowing Britt staff members. Educational programming this year also included the new Guitar Workshop, a three-day exploration in six different genres of guitar playing. The program had a successful first year, and will continue in 2016, along with other summer camps and workshops that will be announced this winter. Several residencies are also being planned, and will be announced as details are finalized.
The Britt membership drive for 2016 is underway, and the public can learn more about how to support Britt at brittfest.org.
Inspired by its intimate and scenic hillside venue, Britt provides diverse live performances, an incomparable classical festival and dynamic education programs that create a sense of discovery and community. Since its grassroots beginnings in 1963, the non-profit organization has grown from a two-week chamber music festival to a summer-long series of concerts in a variety of genres, including a three-week Classical Festival, and year-round education and engagement programs. For more information, visit brittfest.org.