FAQmoot about Folkmoot, those “frequently asked questions” we seem to get quite a bit, are all part of being a unique festival, North Carolina’s official international folk festival.
Folkmoot 2018 opens July 19 and runs through July 29 and will feature performing dance troupes from Ghana, Italy, Czech Republic, Mexico, Thailland and Northern Cyprus and Venezuela as well as Anglo Appalachian and, as always, Cherokee dancers and musicians.
We sat down with Folkmoot Executive Director Angeline Schwab and asked her – directly – for answers to some of those questions. (And feel free to reach out to us with other questions here. We’ll answer them!)
Q: How did Folkmoot acquire the historic Hazelwood School, now the Folkmoot Friendship Center? When?
A: It was a gift to Folkmoot from the Haywood County Commissioners in June 2014.
Q: What are the monthly costs for maintaining the building?
A: Basic operations and staffing costs about $10,000 – $12,000/month.
A: Through our relationships with volunteers and the Sheriff’s crew, we manage most of our “upkeep” or repairs with cost of materials; however, we do hire contractors from time to time and that costs about $20k in a year. Over the last four years, we’ve made more than $600,000 of upgrades to the building.
Q: How does Folkmoot get the money to pay for the building costs, staffing and your events?
A: Folkmoot has a few sources of income: ticket sales to the festival and year-round events, contributions from individuals related to the Friends of Folkmoot and the Campaign for Folkmoot; foundation grants for year-round programs, building rentals from others for specific events and sponsorship from regional businesses.
Q: What’s the ratio of private to public funding sources?
A: 60% of all Folkmoot funds are contributed by individuals, sponsors and foundations; 30% of our funding is from earned income; and 10% of our budget has been government, but that number has gone down drastically over the last decade.
Q: How many workers, staff and volunteers does Folkmoot have or need?
A: Folkmoot has four regular part-time staff, one full time director and up to 47 seasonal employees during the July festival – primarily student guides, teachers, bus drivers and cafeteria workers. We have about 300 individuals that donate their skills to the organization throughout the year.
Q: How much does Folkmoot spend on seasonal employees for the festival?
A: We spend $40,000 in seasonal staff.
A: Folkmoot holds several community events each month: Friendship Dinners, Southern Suppers and/or Cultural Crash Courses. We rent a few rooms in the building to organizations and small businesses. We rent the entire building to Carolina Readiness once a year and our auditorium, cafeteria and multipurpose room to individuals holding weddings and other events. We are currently planning ballroom dance classes and are working towards becoming a youth hostel for special interest groups in the spring and fall. Our goal is to make the building vibrant and self-sustaining.
Q: What does the building offer that other facilities don’t offer?
A: We are usually less expensive than many other places. We also have space for kids to play, a full commercial kitchen, 22 classrooms, a deck, laundry facility, and showers.
Q: How much does it cost to host the international groups each year for the festival?
A: The groups cost Folkmoot about $6,000 each for food, transportation and lodging. I should mention that the groups’ travel costs are supported by their governments. Each group represents their country or university in a mission to create peace through sharing culture.
Q: How much does the festival cost each year to produce?
A: About $270,000.
A: It varies each year, but about $530,000 annually.
Q: How much of the costs are for the building?
A: The building costs about $89,000 a year.
Q: How much do you earn from ticket sales?
A: Ticket sales average around $100,000 a year.
Q: Why does Folkmoot travel to other counties and towns? Why doesn’t Folkmoot keep your shows in Haywood County?
A: Folkmoot needs to maximize ticket sales to pay for the festival and the building. Haywood County tickets represents over half of our total ticket sales for the festival and our free events, like the Parade of Nations and International Day are held in Waynesville to ensure we are focusing on economic impact – increasing heads in beds in our home county. However, we have to depend on the ticket sales in Asheville, Franklin, Hendersonville, Hickory and Cherokee to make ends meet. Visiting these towns almost doubles our ticket revenue but it also costs us $15,000 in bus rentals! We watch the cost of travel and ticket sales very closely. As we develop our capacity for more outdoor events, we will be able to expand our offerings in Waynesville. We hope to do that.
Q: What’s the economic impact of the Folkmoot Festival?
A: According to a 2013 study by Syneva Economics, Folkmoot generates 9.2 million dollars for our regional economy. People can google that and read more about that report if they wish.
Q:Anything else you want people to know about the Folkmoot organization?
A: We hope that the community recognizes the meaning behind holding a Folkmoot. The word Folkmoot is a little odd, but the definition is powerful – it means “a meeting of the people.” A Danish visitor once explained to me – that older communities in Denmark hold folkmoots to put a community’s needs first, over politics. People get together and figure out how to help the people in their own neighborhood, no matter what their political ideologies; when they are done talking, they dance to bring joy the community and solidify their agreements. This seems super-important in the United States right now.
Lastly, we are celebrating cultural differences – all world cultures. The United States is a cultural mosaic; we are celebrating that most of us came from somewhere else and we brought cultural expectations, assumptions and ideas with us. Sometimes, these differences strain communications between people with differences, but Folkmoot is here to bridge that, to support cultural understanding. We think the differences are what makes this country beautiful.