Cross Canadian Ragweed performs in August 2008 during the Free Summer Concert Series at Howelsen Hill.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Cross Canadian Ragweed performs in August 2008 during the Free Summer Concert Series at Howelsen Hill.

Steamboat free summer concert benefit is Friday

Fundraiser a 1st for free summer series

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If you go

What: Steamboat Springs Free Summer Concert Series fundraiser, featuring live local music by Missed the Boat and Little Laura and the Nude Blues Band

When: 8:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Old Town Pub, 600 Lincoln Ave.

Cost: $15 at the door includes five door prize tickets

Call: 846-3352

The Steamboat Springs Free Summer Concert Series is starting its fundraising efforts for the 2010 season, with a party scheduled for Friday and sponsor letters and grant applications scheduled to go out soon.

Coming off­ a trio of less-than-ideal years topped off by a difficult 2009, series or­­g­­an­­i­­zers hope ref­reshed fund­­raising efforts and a new crop of board me­mbers will broaden its rev­­enue stream and help main­­tain a five-concert Steamboat summer tradition.

“We’ve been around for a long time, and it’s great to have some new blood,” concert series administrator Nancy Kramer said. The new board members plan to help on the marketing side of the concert series, pushing new fundraising and development efforts, she said.

For the first time, the series will host a public fundraising party Friday, reaching out to supporters with a night of local music and door prizes. Missed the Boat and Little Laura and the Nude Blues Band are scheduled to start playing at 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Old Town Pub. Tickets are $15 at the door and include five tickets for door prizes, fundraising organizer Barb Vargas said.

Concert series founder and board member Joe Kboudi said the idea behind Friday’s fundraiser is to supplement other funding sources and maintain a five-show, high-quality summer series.

“We think we’ll be able to do five like we always do. This fundraiser will help put us in that right direction, and we hope the community will come out and support it and have a good time,” Kboudi said.

Diversifying revenue

The concert series ran into its first financial hurdle at the start of its 2007 season, when a licensing mix-up slashed revenue from beer sales at the summer’s opening concert.

Economic decline and an increase in production costs hit the series in 2008, with more decline in funding and sponsorships making the situation more difficult during the 2009 season, Kramer said. The final blow came with a not-quite-rained-out Freddy Jones Band concert in the middle of the 2009 season; Kramer estimated a loss of $12,000 to $15,000 in beer concessions that night.

Despite the trouble, all vendors from the 2009 series have been paid, Kramer said.

A new marketing and development committee on the board of directors will work to reduce the impact of concession revenues on the series budget, Kramer said.

“It’s getting the organizational pieces in place and having more help with development,” she said. “We really are trying to step back from having to be so dependent on concession revenues.”

Ideally, large shows with hefty beer sales would start to build a funding reserve, rather than act as a crucial revenue stream.

The series earned 501(c)(3) nonprofit status in 2009, making it more eligible for grant money and making donor contributions tax-deductible.

Concert series board members hope to put on five concerts this summer. They’ve given series promoter John Waldman the go-ahead to book four shows and plan to reconvene in May to assess the possibility of a fifth concert, Kramer said. The board will have a better idea of sponsorship levels and funding in May than it does now, she said.

New board members

New to the board are Scott Fox, Amy Davis and Coleman Cook. Former series Secretary/Treasurer Audrey Williams has stepped up as president, and board members Chris Kaminski and Eli Campbell are back for another term. Kboudi remains on the board and holds the title of director emeritus, Kramer said.

Cook said he’s been a follower and a supporter of the Free Summer Concert Series since he moved to Steamboat 17 years ago. He said he hopes new energy from new board members will take fundraising efforts to “a more noticeable level within the community.” Friday’s fundraiser was scheduled before the new members joined the board, he said.

Among the Free Summer Concert Series’ fundraising avenues is an online donation system at the concert series Web site, www.steamboatfreeconcerts.com. To donate a door prize to Friday’s party, contact Vargas at 846-3352 or imbvargas@gmail.com. To stay up-to-date on Free Summer Concert Series events, check the series’ Facebook social networking page; go to www.facebook.com and search “Steamboat Springs free concert series.”

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