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johnross Seattle Folklife Memorial Day Weekend (94* d) RE: Seattle Folklife Memorial Day Weekend 23 May 04

First, please note that nothing in this post represents any kind of "official" statement from Northwest Folklife. These are my personal responses to earlier posts in this thread.

It takes a lot of effort and a LOT of money to make the Folklife Festival happen. Some of that money comes from the City of Seattle and other levels of government, but it also comes from sponsorships, private donations, and commissions from sales during the festival. Every one of the food, beer, crafts, book, record, t-shirt and other vendors is paying either a flat fee, a percentage of sales, or both for the privilege of selling at the festival. In exchange for those fees and commissions, the festival attracts more than 250,000 people who spend more than a million and a half dollars over the four-day weekend.

At the same time, one of Northwest Folklife's strongest commitments is that the festival will not charge admission. Except for one special fundraising concert, it's all free. Visitors are encouraged to donate money, and to buy souvenir buttons and posters, but nobody is turned away because they don't contribute.

But somehow, a few people who want to sell their own CDs don't think they have any obigation to pay their fair share of the costs of producing the event. If Folklife didn't charge the vendors a commission and spend that money to make the festival happen every year, there wouldn't be anybody there to buy your CDs.

Sure, you're contributing your performance and your time (and believe me, it's appreciated), but so are several thousand other performers and volunteers who don't try to make money off the festival without letting some of it filter back into the costs of producing the thing. Why should you expect to be treated differently?

As for the tax and business license requirements, those may not be Folklife's fault. They're certainly not getting that money. Seattle Center is a city facility, and the city may be clamping down on those requirements. I honestly don't know the details. But when the city can't keep the libraries open due to short funding, I have to say that I don't mind paying my share of taxes.

And of course, you're setting the price of the CDs yourself. There's nothing to stop you from adding another dollar or two to the price you charge at the festival to cover your added expenses.

But don't accuse Northwest Folklife of trying to exploit the poor musician. As far as I'm concerned, any musician (and everybody else) who's making money at the festival has a moral obligation to put something back into the cost of the event's production. And that includes buskers, people selling CDs and even the folks who are paid to collect signatures on ballot petitions.

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