Mayfair Festival of the Arts
Announcement about our 2017 Festival
The Board of Directors of Mayfair, Inc., is announcing that Mayfair Festival of the Arts will not be held in 2017.
Mayfair has struggled financially for most of it 30-year existence. A massive deficit about 15 years ago was the reason the members of the Board of Directors at that time voted to start charging admission for the Festival. But even the nominal entry fee of a few dollars could not provide the kind of income that would allow us to get through years when there was bad weather.
Over the past few years we have worked hard and paid off over a decade of accrued debt. But so much is changing in our region, in philanthropy, in volunteerism, and in Allentown, that we decided to take a step back and evaluate our future.
Until recently, Mayfair Festival of the Arts was one of the few options for concert-going and fine craft/art-buying. That is no longer the case. In just the past few years there has been an explosion in new entertainment options in our region. The Allentown Symphony started staging contemporary concerts. Penn’s Peak reopened. Then SteelStacks and The Sands opened. Then PPL Center opened.
What’s more, attendance at arts festivals across the US is in decline. Many have been forced to close. In 1992, 41 percent of the adult population had visited an art festival within the past year. But in 2012, just 22 percent had. www.statista.com/statistics/195210/art-fair-and-festival-visitation-in-the-us-since-1982/
The development in downtown Allentown has an impact on Mayfair, too, as foundation and individual giving has shifted to focus on downtown recovery. Admission income covers less than 20 percent of the cost of producing the massive Mayfair Festival. That means that each year we must look to the community to support the event. Charitable contributions is what every arts organization relies on for sustainability. There is no arts organization that can survive on ticket sales alone.
Finally, Mayfair suffers from an issue that is striking all nonprofits: the decline in volunteers. Across the U.S., the older generation which faithfully volunteers in their community is aging out of the system and too few young people are taking their place. It is a crisis for all nonprofit organizations, but especially at Mayfair Festival which is was run by volunteers, with the exception of one full time staff person.
Our full time employee, Executive Director Arlene Daily, left Mayfair in September for another job. Considering also the departure of several volunteers, what we are hearing about the shift in focus in community funding, the increased competition in the realm of live concerts, the decreasing audience for arts festivals, and the continued susceptibility we have to the weather, we took this opportunity to re-evaluate and decided to cancel the 2017 Festival.
We explored the idea of partnering with another organization to run Mayfair Festival. An arts organization with sufficient administrative and fundraising staff could add the Festival to their suite of arts offerings. We have found a way to produce it at close to break even, so if run by existing staff in another organization it could be considered a fundraiser for them. But the Festival is unique, as we’ve been saying for three decades. It’s unlike what any other organization is doing, so it would be challenging for another organization to take over.
And the reality is the same for any organization considering such an event: the number of options for entertainment in our area is overwhelming, the audiences for art festival is shrinking, the funding streams supporting events in the city of Allentown are shifting, the pool of people who volunteer is declining, and despite every attempt to create an event that isn’t impacted by the weather, it still impacts us greatly.
Our Board discussed relocating the Festival to downtown Allentown to take advantage of the funding that supports downtown events, but felt we didn’t have sufficient volunteers and other resources for such a move.
We thank you for your interest in Mayfair Festival of the Arts.
Mayfair Festival of the Arts 2016
4-Days, 100 Artist Booths, 8 Music Festivals, 20 Food Trucks
For less than the cost of a single concert or one day at other art shows, our 4-day pass gives you access to all this:
- 100 Juried Artist Booths
- Fine Art Gallery
- Artist Demonstrations
- 8 Music Festivals
- 3 Stages (1 indoors, 2 outdoors)
- 20 Food Vendors
- 3 Beer/Wine Booths
- KidSpace Hands-On Art Project Pavilion
- KidStage Arts Performances for Children
- Middle-earth Interactive Theater for Children
- Parking FREE
- Childen 10 and under FREE
- Active/Retired Military (with ID) FREE
--Memorial Day Weekend--