During the 2009 Peninsula Music Festival, Music Director Victor Yampolsky (left) chats with pianist Stewart Goodyear backstage before a concert.
mances in a high school gymnasium for its first 38 years. Today, the festival has professional staff and performs in a 700-seat concert hall. Its $750,000 budget is primarily dedicated to paying the Festival Orchestra’s 70 musicians, who come from professional ensembles around the country and play under the baton of Victor Yampolsky, music director since 1985. The festival is an integral part of an array of cultural elements that add “flavor” to the area as a vacation destination, says John Jarosh of the Door County Visitor Bureau. Door County has long been attractive to artists, and has a well-known art school, the Peninsula School of Art, a concentration of potters, and many galleries. There is also summer-stock theater and chamber music at Midsummer’s Music Festival. The americanorchestras.org
cultural offerings help to swell the resident population numbers from a year-round total of 30,000 to 150,000 in the summer; two million people visit the county each year, according to Sam Perlman, economic development manager of the county. Tourism, the third largest industry in Wisconsin, is critical for the area, particularly its northern end: Door County’s Visitor Bureau estimated that tourism in Door County generated $483.9 million in visitor spending in 2008. Spending on recreation was $140.56 million, 22 percent of the total, and cultural events accounted for $3.07 million of that (a category that included sport fees, event fees, and wagering was the largest recreation slice, at $54.86 million). Grutzmacher points out that the festival participants themselves boost the local economy. The 70 orchestral musicians who come for three weeks with their families rent cottages or condos and buy food and gas. “They eat at the restaurants, rent bikes and boats, go to galleries and shops,” she says. “Many have friends who visit during the three weeks to take in a concert. With 70 orchestra members and their families and friends, the impact on the local economy is strong.” In addition, as a year-round business, the festival employs community people, rents offices, and uses phone and internet service. “We use our local printer, advertise in newspapers and tourist guides, and spend all of our money locally.” Grutzmacher says that the community recognizes the festival’s economic importance: “They make contributions and advertise in the program book because the festival brings people into their restaurants. We ask them to stay open after concerts, and they do. Some give deals or discounts to musicians. There’s a mutual recognition that one can’t survive without the other.”
summer performance options. George Osborne, Artpark’s president, says the people who did come to the BPO concerts were a plus for the community: a recent economic study by the American Council on the Arts calculated that the BPO audience, averaging about 1,000 attendees per concert, had a $500,000 positive impact on the local economy during the summer. “The BPO was our anchor classical programming, even though it was light classics. The rest of what we do is popular genres, such as Broadway musicals and rock concerts,” Osborne George Osborne, Artpark President says. “The BPO drew a higher-end audience, the kind of clientele that we don’t get for other shows. They spent more money on the restaurants and shopping. We have an art gallery here: BPO attendees were their primary customers, who would spend $500 on a painting. They are going to be missed.” For Leon Botstein, president of Bard College and the artistic director of the Bard Music Festival in rural Annandale-onHudson, bringing that high-end audience to the Hudson Valley has been a long-term plan. He and others felt that cultural tourism could revitalize the area, which is located 90 miles north of New York City. “IBM moved out, and employment collapsed,” he says. “It’s not a sports area. It’s not recreational. There’s nothing really historic— George Washington didn’t live here. The best we have is Hyde Park [Franklin D. Roosevelt’s home], and it doesn’t have the same aura as the founding fathers. What Buffalo Philharmonic Music Director JoAnn Falletta leads the orchestra and dancers in an Argentine tango at Artpark in 2007.
And in New York State…
Businesses in the Lewiston area around Artpark, the large concert facility 25 miles from Buffalo, New York may discover something about the economic impact of concert audiences this coming summer. For the last six years, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra has presented a ten-concert Summerfest series at the facility. But Daniel Hart, the BPO’s executive director, says that the orchestra “struggled to get an audience there,” so this summer, it will play four concerts at Artpark and look at other
Courtesy of Buffalo Philharmonic
boaters, campers, and hikers. Sharon Grutzmacher, the festival’s executive director, says that geography is the festival’s greatest competition: “It’s hard to compete with a beautiful sunset on the bay. People are out on their boats, and it’s still light at 8 p.m.” Still, the festival, a three-week blitz of nine different orchestral programs presenting a mix of standard and unusual repertoire by the Peninsula Music Festival Orchestra and guests, attracts a solid, loyal audience that returns every year. It was founded in 1953 by Lorenz Heise, a Milwaukee businessman and summer resident of the area, a Moravian center since the mid-nineteenth century. After attending a Moravian music festival in North Carolina, Heise enlisted conductor Thor Johnson, its leader, to start something similar in Door Country, raising the necessary support from likeminded, affluent vacationers. The festival was volunteer-run and held perfor-