Thirty-seven years is a respectable run for any arts organization, but tell that to the musicians, staff and board members of the Vermont Mozart Festival. Not to mention the thousands of fans of the grand performances held in gorgeous locations around the state each summer. For my money, a perfect summer evening looks like this: a picnic on the grass at Shelburne Farms (avec vin!), a world-class orchestra striking up on the historic inn's porch, an Adirondack sunset reflecting off Lake Champlain.
But not enough people paid for that kind of summer night over the past few years, apparently — though Seven Days readers voted the fest the 2010 Best Outdoor concert Series, and Vermont Chamber of Commerce consistently named it a top-10 summer event. Moreover, the organization hired a high-profile artistic director, Israeli pianist and composer Gil Shohat (pictured).
Though fundraising actually improved in 2009 and 2010, ticket sales reportedly "sunk well below expected revenues," according to a press release. Two seasons marred by heavy rains did not help. VMF was left with a deficit of $325,000 after this summer's festival, said the release.
Today, the organization, founded in 1974 by Mel Kaplan, announced it will be closing its doors "on or before January 15." Said board president Richard Parlato: "I will miss all the wonderful summer nights and the magic of the music in our beautiful state."
Amen to that.