Event founders confirm Mammoth Lakes Jazz to liquidate assets.
Mammoth Lakes Jazz just completed its 26th year. Question is, will there be a 27th?
The music festival’s Board of Directors announced this week that it is liquidating assets. Mammoth Lakes Jazz event co-founder Ken Coulter said that a major sale of equipment will take place in Mammoth’s Industrial Park Oct. 26-28 (Unit 350-A).
Coulter acknowledges if the equipment is gone, “It will probably doom the event.”
At least in terms of what we’ve come to expect.
Cathleen Calderon, the person who founded the successful (11 years running) Villagefest, and who also served as the #2 to Chris Olson in organizing this year’s Mammoth Lakes Jazz production, has indicated she’d like to keep it going in scaled-down form.
Calderon envisions a three-day event, perhaps four music venues, and about a $100,000 budget.
In its heyday, Flossy and Ken Coulter said the Jazz Festival had 12 music venues and a $497,000 budget. “And we made money,” added Ken.
Last year’s event had about a $300,000 budget, and lost approximately $50,000.
The year before that (25), the Coulters final year running the event, it lost $7,000. However, when they left,. there was still $27,000 in the bank account.
There’s nothing left now.
“Did you see it [the end] coming?” The Sheet asked Ken Coulter this week.
“I saw it coming down the pike … but also thought it could continue.”
He noted that eleven different jazz festivals have gone out of business in the last two years. “We’re not unusual,” he said. “Jazz as a genre is having issues.”
As one example, he talked about a friend of his, a five-time Grammy winner. “If he wants to play Jazz, he can play L.A. for $100/night … I wouldn’t pack my bag for that.”
Flossy Coulter said the biggest reason for the success of the festival in its heyday was that Aztec Tents was a major sponsor. in some years, the bill for tents, floors, stages, chairs, et. al. was close to $100,000 – retail. Aztec would only charge transportation and labor – less than a quarter of what it would typically charge.
“It was the difference,” said Flossy, “between red and black.”
This year, Cathleen Calderon said the event spent $42,000 on tents.
Sheet: if you were going to launch an event right now, how would you do it?
Clearly, Flossy has given some thought to this.
“I’d call it a Jazz party, and I’d host it all out of one hotel … Mammoth, at the moment, doesn’t have that. We just have pieces. We don’t have a single indoor/outdoor venue for food, bathrooms, souvenirs, lodging, parking, etc.”
Sheet: Why do you think the event was so successful for so many years?
Flossy: Passion and consistency.
Cathleen Calderon acknowledged that the event is back to square one. “It’s a starter event. We need seed money.”
One place to start will be through an already established “Note-ables” program. There are currently 100 donors who contribute anywhere from $50 to $2,000 to support Jazz.
And a cornerstone to any event appears to be Grumpy’s Sports Restaurant, as both Owner Gregg Simas and G.M. Scott Konzen are committed to help, according to Calderon.
To streamline the event, Calderon said she would prefer to stick with California-based bands to save on skyrocketing travel costs.
And while Mammoth Mountain and the Mammoth Lakes Foundation have been extremely generous with housing (offering it at half-price), Calderon needs both entities to be even more generous (no cost).
Contact Cathleen @ 760.914.3122.