Everything about this moment is surreal, isn’t it?
We write this on a gray afternoon at the unusually quiet Folkmoot Center, and, like you, we’re worrying about friends, family and what the next weeks will bring.
Just one month ago at Folkmoot we celebrated the launch of our 2020 program schedule – our broadest ever – and looked forward to a fine-tuned international festival in July. Now, over the last three weeks, since we’ve come to understand the potential impacts of COVID-19, we’ve cancelled 25 events and laid off most of our employees.
We count ourselves fortunate that our staff and their families are healthy, for now, and hope you and your loved ones are safe, too, but we ache at the distress this crisis will cause within the community we love. We worry also that Folkmoot, founded in Haywood County 40 years ago and located at Historic Hazelwood School for 20 years, is in danger of folding.
Since 2015, we’ve made bold steps in new programming, from concerts to lecture series, and from literary arts to friendship dinners; we’ve even added three new signature festivals, Cherokee World Games, Mootenanny and Folkmalt. We’ve staffed up to do this work and invested almost one million dollars of your community donations into the renovation of the Center. You have supported this transformation through contributions of time, talent and tickets, and now the ticket revenue has disappeared.
To survive, we’re using our spring newsletter to the Friends of Folkmoot – normally a celebration of the year’s promise – to ask for a lifeline. We know we must make adaptations to navigate this situation, including transforming or perhaps rescheduling the 37th annual summer festival, a mountain tourism staple since 1983.
Fortunately, we know how to operate on a tight budget, and we believe sponsors will re-commit when the virus subsides. But the fact remains that once the crisis passes, the ramp-up and re-staging of events will be costly, and we can’t reasonably operate during intervening months with little or no revenue.
We hope that those of you who appreciate our long history and who want Folkmoot to survive will lend a helping hand. It’s a stressful time for many, but if you’re able to make a contribution, please consider Folkmoot. Now is the time.
We are grateful for your support.