April 21, 2018
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Folk Festival cuts development director over budget concerns

Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
People walk around at the Bangor Waterfront during the American Folk Festival in 2010.
By Andrew Neff, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — A budget shortfall due largely to a decline in donations this year has led to the elimination of a full-time position with the American Folk Festival.

Mary Brann, who as American Folk Festival development director was primarily responsible for fundraising for the last five years, was let go last week, according to Heather McCarthy, executive director of the festival.

“We had to make some tough decisions and there are other cuts likely forthcoming, but what form those will take is something our board of directors is working on,” McCarthy said.

This year’s festival lost $75,000 primarily because of the weather-related loss of the third day of the annual three-day festival, which was drenched by Tropical Storm Irene.

“We certainly hope the 2012 festival reverses things in terms of weather compared to this year, but right now we have to react to current financial situations,” said McCarthy.

McCarthy wouldn’t say how much money the elimination of Brann’s job would save the festival.

“I’m not ready to answer that question,” she said.

She also wouldn’t speculate on whether budget-related cuts would take the form of personnel or services or something else.

“The festival budget operates on a calendar year, so as we prepare the 2012 budget, those will certainly have to happen before the end of the current year,” she said.

Attempts to reach Brann, one of three full-time festival employees, for comment were unsuccessful.

McCarthy stressed that donations are still trickling in — and are still crucial.

“That’s why it’s important for us to keep ourselves in the minds of donors during the entire year,” she said.

McCarthy said the board and other festival staff members are exploring the idea of organizing other events to raise money for the festival, which made a $30,000 payment to the city on Sept. 26. The payment was the second of 10 annual payments festival officials agreed to pay Bangor for financial support and services provided by the city during its initial three-year run as the National Folk Festival.

Correction: An early version of this story requires clarification. The story said the festival was scheduled to make a $29,999.31 payment to the city of Bangor by Nov. 1. The festival made a $30,000 payment to the city on Sept. 26, said the city’s finance director, Debbie Cyr.

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