2015 Director’s Letter
**December 2015, update**
We did not get the $100,000 dollar grant we were hoping for, which may mean many of our expansion plans and upgrades for 2016 will have to be postponed. After much consideration, the organizing team has decided to not let that deter us. We have put on a great show with less than optimal funding for many years and the crew is sure we can do it again in 2016. The 2016 organizing committee has been hard at work since November, and as always we will need lots of help. If you would like to get involved please contact Heidi Nygard at Heidi@zihuafest.info, or by filling out a contact form on our website.
Plans for 2016 are underway and we will be posting news as it becomes available on our new webpage devoted to 2016. Artists have been selected and you can see the line-up and find out everything about the 2016 event on our 2016 Page, Click Here, and on our 2016 Facebook page where you can keep up with the latest news. Funds and support from the local authorities are being solicited, fundraising projects are being organized, sponsorships are being sold, venues and program are being set. Stay tuned to the 2016 webpage and 2016 Facebook page for updates and news.
I am spending more time in the US working this year and I will be passing more responsibility over to Heidi and the crew for 2016, these are the same hardworking people who have been putting on the event for many years and I am sure they will do a beautiful job. Meanwhile, I will continue looking for larger funding opportunities to keep our festival viable well into the future.
Our 2016 organizing committee is:
Heidi Nygård, Operations Director
Edilma Fernandez Coronado
Jose Luis Norriega
José Luis Cobo, Artist Ambassador
Federico Velderrain & Rodrigo Espejo, Production Directors
Helmut & Catharine Stammers, Venue Coordinators
Catherine Krantz, International Promotion
Kirk Wagner, Stage Manager
Margaret Reid & Julia Sumner, Photographers
Carlos Rios, Onsite Artist Coordinator
Ana Delia Castro Barrios, Bar Manager
Gabriela Velazquez, Graphic Design
Thanks for all of your support and we’ll see you at the shows March 5-13, 2016!
Zi Guitar Fest AC, president
**September 2015, update**
**Once again we are at a funding crossroads. We have to decide soon if we have enough funds to put on our 2016 event. We have applied for a $100,000 dollar Mission Main Street community business grant, and we will receive news by the end of September 2015. We will let everyone know as soon as we know and we are, as always, open to suggestions. Keeping in mind that we are not looking for ways to save money (our budget is at bare minimum already). We are looking for ways to raise an additional $100,000 dollars, in grants, donations or sponsorship.**
Summer 2015 Newsletter
Hello ZIGF Patrons and friends,
We have posted the Zihuatanejo International Guitar Festival 2015 Wrap Up and Annual Report and our 2015 Financial Statements online, you can see them here:
The trend of the past three years has continued. Our crowds and budget needs increase every year but our income and sponsorship does not keep up. We earn and fund raise around $50,000 dollars a year but our real costs are much more. We rely heavily on donated goods and services and we ask more of fewer people each year. The value of those donations in 2015 was over $90,000 dollars, so although our budget is $50,000 dollars the true cost of our event is closer to $145,000 dollars. Add to that the urgent need for upgrades and improvements to our beach site (estimated at $23,500 dollars) and you can see that we are well short of what we need.
The Zihuatanejo international Guitar Festival has continued to grow every year attracting more and more tourists to Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo. 2015 was another record-breaking year for attendance: at least 1,200 people on Playa Madera for the opening concert (with overflow crowds in every hotel and restaurant along the beach) and all of our Gala Shows were sold-out all week. We estimate that our attendance during the week was over 5,000 people. This is a lot of people to be responsible for and I have been increasingly concerned that our budget is not keeping up with our growth.
Since cultural exchange is a big part of our mission, we keep our prices very accessible to encourage as much attendance as possible, and unfortunately, the increase in revenue from larger crowds is not enough to offset the increase in expenses. The growth is too much for our small and already stretched thin budget. I anticipate 2016 to be even bigger than 2015, and I am worried about being able to handle the crowds. I worry that we cannot continue to offer a safe and professional event at our current small budget.
Over twelve years we have earned an international reputation for having a world class event. Even though we are a community festival, we need to be run professionally so we can continue to provide a world-class music festival that promotes Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, and that means paid staff and upgrades to the festival site, for safety, security, professional appearance and comfort of our guests.
-We need generators for safe and consistent electricity.
-We need bathroom facilities that are well-lit, comfortable and safe.
-We need well-lit pathways to and from the beach.
-We need the beach to be accessible, for older tourists and tourists in wheelchairs.
-We need liability insurance for damages and injuries in case accidents happen.
-And we need to be able to pay our staff and the people who offer us professional services, myself included.
Bottom line: We need a larger budget to be able to make all of these upgrades.
I have applied for a $100,000 dollar community business grant from Chase bank’s Mission Main Street Grant program, I will know in September if we receive it.
(Breakdown: $50,000 standard budget, $25,000 staff and debt, $13,000 site upgrades, $12,000 artist fees)
I am very proud that our community festival has managed to create a world class event with such a small budget and that we have put on a great show for so many years, but 2015 was eye-opening for me and I no longer think that our small budget can handle the size of crowds that we are getting without some significant investment.
If we do not get the grant, how do we propose to meet this goal of $100,000 dollars additional income?
The best option would be to find a $100,000 dollar sponsor (or 4 – $25,000 dollar sponsors). But as our largest single sponsor to date has been $2,000 dollars, a $100,000 sponsor may be quite a leap. The vast majority of our sponsors are community business paying less than $500 dollars each. We have sponsorship packages for $10,000, $25,000 and $50,000 dollars but have never sold one.
This year I am adding a $100,000 dollar sponsorship level as the Presenting Sponsor, (your name here presents the Zihuatanejo International Guitar Festival). I am eternally optimistic, there is a good fit somewhere.
Short of a $100,000 dollar sponsor, our other options are:
A large part of our mission is cultural exchange and serving our local community. For that reason we maintain low ticket prices to encourage as much local attendance as possible, so raising prices is not a desirable option, although it may become necessary. Right now we have full week passes at $100 dollars for 12-15 shows, an excellent value. (For those of you who don’t attend live music shows regularly: Pretty much anywhere in North America you can expect to pay a $20 dollar cover charge for any two-hour show at a bar, restaurant or small theater, and at least $100 dollars (if not 200-500-1000 dollars) to sit stage front at any stadium show.) We think our beach concerts are world class and well worth what we charge for them. We’d love to keep our ticket prices an incredible deal so that attendees are always happy to pay.
We have struggled with finding large sponsors because of our small beach town destination and our difficult-to-monetize-market. Our audience is US/Canadian tourists in Mexico, that makes it a hard sell for both Mexican and US/Canadian companies. Our sponsorship has never exceeded $10,000 dollars. We would love to find a way to expand that 10-fold without affecting the community spirit and charm of the event, but so far it has not happened. Our largest single sponsor so far has been $2,000 dollars. The vast majority of our sponsors are community business paying less than $500 dollars each, and most claim that it is a hardship to pay more.
We have attempted over many years to secure government funding on the municipal, state and federal level and have had limited success. We received a $500,000 pesos grant from the federal government four years ago, but have never been able to meet the stringent filing requirements to collect the money. We have received state funding to attend an international trade show for promotion in 2012, but have not received any annual or consistent help since then. The city of Zihuatanejo and the local tourism board (the IZ Office of Conventions and Visitors – OCV) has stepped up numerous times with logistics support and limited funds, for which we are very grateful. We estimate 2015’s help by the city and OCV accounted for about $10,000 dollars each of donated goods /services that was sorely needed but still far short of what we need.
We also hold our own fund raisers each year that are a lot of fun and really get the community engaged. The past 2 years we have held Kickstarter campaigns. They offer tickets at pre-sale prices and other perks and they raised us $10,000 dollars minus fees, in 2014, and $12,000 dollars minus fees, in 2015. If we maintained current growth we could probably raise about $15,000 this year from Kickstarter, but keeping in mind most of the Kickstarter earnings are pre-sales tickets, so not an additional source of income, just a way to collect it earlier. We have determined if the goal is pre-sales of tickets that we can do better to raise funds with lower fees by offering tickets sales on our own website. (In 2015 we were able to sell $8,000 dollars in ticket sales online.) Additional community fundraisers are a great idea but our community is not as prosperous as it once was and even in the best of times, our best ever local fundraiser (Taste of Zihua restaurant crawl) brought in about $2,000 dollars, many of our other community fund raisers failed to break even.
Ticket, Bar & Merchandise Sales
Our own sales account for the lion’s share of our funds: Ticket pre-sales online, through Kickstarter or our website and cash Ticket sales on site were $33,980 in 2015. Bar earnings were $6,700, Merchandise sales $2,900 dollars. Add those sales to our $8,000 dollars in sponsorship and we did manage to hobble together about $50,000 dollars last year. Based on the size of our beach venue and the format of our event, we may be close to full capacity. We could possibly fit another 500 people somewhere, with a maximum capacity of 2,000 attendees. We have budgeted 3,000 dollars in our Upgrade budget to account for city-wide banners and signage in the hope of reaching a few hundred more attendees each night. This would give us a good amount of additional income (although more people generate more expenses too). Anything more than 2,000 would require a larger and more costly venue and may adversely affect the intimacy of the event.
So these are a few of our options going forward. Our best hope is still the community business grant, we will know very soon, in September. If we do not receive the grant we will have to make some hard decisions.
Meanwhile, we are working on 2016 and hoping for the best, and I wanted to keep you in the loop.
What’s at stake?
Artists Applications for 2016 have come in from musicians all across the globe, in many genres. Countries represented include:
So a pretty international bunch and some very talented people!
Thanks for reading and thanks for being a part of the journey!
I’ll keep you posted, and remember if you have any ideas or solutions, no matter how hare-brained or optimistic you think they are, feel free to tell me all about it, we are always open to suggestions and a little help from our friends … Happy summer! /Catherine
Zihuatanejo International Guitar Festival, President
Zihuatanejo, Mexico / Emory, TX
Zihuatanejo International Guitar Festival (March 4-13, 2016)