Britt Festivals reports a successful season

Attendance during the 2013 Britt Festivals was slightly down from last year, but average attendance per show increased, thanks to two fewer concerts, Britt Festivals reported today.

The festival presented 35 concerts on the hill in Jacksonville this summer, bringing in overall attendance of nearly 61,000 people for an average attendance of 1,735 per concert, Britt officials reported.

In 2012, the season included 37 concerts, which had a total attendance of just over 61,000 for an average of 1,650 people per concert. In 2011, 40 concerts drew more than 62,000 people to the hill, averaging 1,550 per show.

In 2013, 13 concerts sold out, up from 12 sold-out shows the previous year and eight in 2011.

Ticket sales cover 60 percent of Britt's operating expenses, on average, for the pops season and 33 percent for the Classical Festival. Britt relies on contributed income to cover the gap and has been working to increase those contributions. Business partners contributed $214,000 this year, a 22 percent increase over the $175,000 donated in 2012. Grant support increased by 21 percent, festival officials reported.

Britt completed a capital campaign for a new performance garden, which will include a new performance space with seating for 150, improved ADA accessibility, restrooms and entrances and additional concessions. Final approvals and construction on that project are expected this fall, officials said.

This week, the festival expects to name a new music director for the Classical Festival. Three candidates — Mei-Ann Chen, Teddy Abrams and David Danzmayr — auditioned this season, each conducting a weekend of concerts.

Highlights in the Britt's education and community engagement programs included an all-ages ukulele workshop, the popular Rock Camp, the new modern chamber music camp with Project: Beyond the Page and the Rising Stars Competition for local musicians.

Heavy smoke from wildfires around the region during the Classical Festival forced Britt to move a concert indoors for only the second time in its 51-year history. As a result of the smoke, Britt incurred unexpected expenses and lost expected ticket revenue, officials said.

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