We are so excited to kick off the 2020 Fox Cities Book Festival this weekend and we know you are too. Before we dive into a full schedule of free, open-to-the-public events with exciting authors, we have some important information to share about the future of the Fox Cities Book Festival.
The Fox Cities Book Festival has been a free part of the Fox Cities for over a decade and the Fox Cities Book Festival Board prides itself on not charging for access to the arts. That access comes at a cost to an organization with no paid employees that relies solely on donations.
While we hope that we have continued to offer you a polished and professional product, the reality is that donations to the festival have gone down by more than 50% in the last five years. In-person event donation revenue has also been steadily decreasing. Last year, in-person cash donations amounted to less than $800. This year, due to the global health crisis, we have not been able to host any in-person events, further deleting our revenue sources.
A decrease in donations has a real impact. You may have noticed a gradual shift in our ability to bring in nationally-known headlining authors. We also have had to gradually scale back the number of authors we can host every year.
Our entire festival budget for authors the last three years has been lower than what most festivals pay to one single headlining author. In our annual post-festival survey, the authors many of you indicate you would like to see cost an average of 25-40K per appearance, which does not include travel costs.
Our greatest wish is that we will be able to have an in-person weeklong festival in 2021. But the reality is that the Fox Cities Book Festival currently has almost no funding for a 2021 festival. We cannot in good conscience sign author contracts for 2021 without funds in place to pay authors.
How You Can Help
During the month of October, we have set a $5,000 fundraising goal. If we reach that goal, we will have enough funds for a virtual festival in 2021 comparable to the events scheduled for this year. Virtual visits come at a reduced price and require no travel expenses. But if we are able to have an in-person festival in the future, the budget needs to be at least three to four times that amount. As a comparison, other large scale festivals in the state have operating budgets in the 150K+ range.
So what is at stake here? The Fox Cities Book Festival remains the most prominent nonprofit bringing authors into the Fox Cities. Without funding, author visits to our area will majorly decline, become nonexistent, or require the barrier of admission fees. Further, student access to authors in the Fox Cities will also be jeopardized. Almost 90% of in-person author visits to schools in the Fox Cities in the last three years were booked by the Fox Cities Book Festival.
Our mission is to celebrate books and create an engaged community of readers. We hope that you will help us keep this tradition alive.
We ask that you consider the festival in your charitable giving in 2020. Donations can be made via:
You can also help by:
- Purchasing books through our store
- Purchasing FCBF apparel
- Participating in employer gift match programs
- By volunteering your time to us
We know the Fox Cities Book Festival is important to you too, which is why we’re sharing this. We hope the next week of festival programs enrich your lives, inspires you, and broadens your perspective. Then, we ask that you donate to, advocate for, and support the Fox Cities Book Festival so we can continue fulfilling our mission of connecting writers and readers!