11/19/09 – SOON Press Release

Save Our Orchestra Now
POB 376
Ashland, NH 03217

CONTACT: Gene Bishop (603) 536-2291


Public Lock-Out at Annual Meeting Threatens Community Support


Plymouth, NH:
Save Our Orchestra Now (S.O.O.N), a citizen’s organization committed to protecting the New Hampshire Music Festival, issued the following statement today concerning the Festival’s Board actions relative to changes in the Festival’s artistic vision, its governance structure and the public lock-out at the annual meeting.


In the days since the Board announced that the Festival’s corporate governance would be changed to remove Incorporators from an active role in the organization’s structure, we are hearing unmistakable signs of outrage from a wide group of Festival supporters which extends well beyond the S.O.O.N. membership.

This growing concern was reinforced by the Board’s decision to lock the doors and hire armed police to keep the uninvited out of the annual meeting held at Gilford High School yesterday. The Board seems to be protecting themselves from the audience, instead of acting as stewards of the Festival for the audience.

We have said before that this effort to close the Board off from the wider Festival community is unhealthy for the organization. Now that such action has been sanctioned by the Boards by-law change, we fear it will discourage attendance at performances and community support for the annual fund. 

The Festival community is clearly concerned with the proposed departure from the traditional artistic approach. Major artistic changes are being proposed in order to attract a younger, more vibrant audience, but there is no evidence that these proposed radical innovations will succeed in achieving the desired outcome.  The annual meeting should have offered marketing data to support the Festival management’s repeated claim that the “new vision” can reverse a long downward trend in ticket sales.  However, the topic was not discussed and the risks of this artistic experiment continue to be another open and dangerous issue with great potential to harm the Festival.

S.O.O.N. remains open to discussion with the Festival Board about finding an appropriate solution to these issues and hopes to work together towards a plan for a financial and artistic direction that everyone can agree is in the best interest of the Festival. However, if this is going to be successful, a more inclusive tone and willingness to seek compromise is needed from an increasingly insular board and staff of the Festival.


About S.O.O.N.

Save Our Orchestra Now is a citizen’s organization formed to protect the New Hampshire Music Festival. It is made up of audience members, financial supporters of the Festival, NH Music Festival Incorporators and former Board members.