Winter Roots FAQ
Was it an amazing festival?
Yes! It absolutely was! Check out the videos up on the Flurry Facebook page, DFO Facebook page, and Friends of the Flurry group. We had SO MUCH FUN dancing with you all again, and we know you did too.
Did we just save the 2024 Flurry Festival?!?
We did! In just a few weeks, the Flurry community responded to our call, and raised $100,000 to allow us to start planning for next year’s festival. We are so grateful for your donations, words of support, and advice and guidance as we undertook this massive fundraising effort. Everyone who contributed in any way has a special place in our Flurry hearts, and though you can’t see it, we’re playing a tune for you!
So is that it, then?
We’d love to think that everything could go right back to normal next year, and we’d never have to ask for your help again. But as anyone who’s tried to steer an arts organization through the pandemic – or any arts lover who occasionally checks their mail – knows, the landscape has changed such that Flurry is going to need ongoing support to keep bringing you that unique and wonderful experience each year. While many people have returned to large-scale dancing, many are not yet comfortable with the health risks it can involve. And the breadth of disagreement over Covid precautions in our dance world, mirroring that of our larger communities, makes it difficult to find solutions that will appeal to all. We know that Flurry attendance will continue to be a challenge, and we will need funding beyond ticket sales to keep our festival sustainable.
Our fundraising committee has begun working on multiple fronts, with the guidance and support of many generous community members, to bolster the festival’s financial position and ensure we can continue this tradition for years to come. That will take an ongoing community effort, and you can expect we’ll continue to reach out for your support going forward. Every person who’s experienced the Flurry knows that it’s a piece of magic you can take with you to sustain you throughout those long winter days, and all the ways you contribute to that magic make it deeper and richer for all. That may be volunteering, ridesharing, posting photos, taking a new dancer under your wing, or so many other ways you help build the beautiful community we share each year. And going forward, it may also mean helping out with a contribution here and there, if you have the means.
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❄️ What are the Covid stats for Winter Roots?
Our requirements for entry were vaccination including a booster if vaccinated prior to 2022, a negative test on the day of entry, and being symptom-free. Masking was strongly encouraged, and masks were required in the testing area.
- Prior to the festival, 14 people canceled due to positive Covid tests. An additional 4 canceled due to respiratory illness, and all received refunds.
- Three people tested positive during entry screening, and immediately left the festival and notified contacts.
- Positive test reports after the festival are as follows (as of 3/2/23):
- Monday: 2 (one related to pre-festival contact)
- Wednesday: 2
- Thursday: 3
- Friday: 2
- Saturday: 1
- Of 149 survey respondents so far, 40% masked all the time, 30% some of the time, and 30% none of the time.
We will update these numbers as additional reports come in. Thanks to everyone who kept us in the loop!
❄️ How can I report a positive test after the festival?
If you tested positive in the week after the festival, please send a note to email@example.com. If you’re comfortable sharing, it would also be helpful to know whether you masked, and if you had any contact with other known exposures. All names will be kept confidential.
❄️ Will future Flurry Festivals continue to have Covid restrictions?
Just as we can’t predict the trajectory of the pandemic, we can’t know at this point whether restrictions will be necessary at future Flurry events. We are deeply appreciative of the many people who chose to mask during Winter Roots, and believe that it helped minimize the spread of illness during this festival. Our guiding principles going forward, should a 2024 festival be possible, will be to be as inclusive as possible of our full community while remaining attentive to the well-being and comfort of our attendees. What that may look like next winter is a question for another day.
Questions About the Cancellation of Spring Bloom
❄️ Why are you canceling Spring Bloom?!?
We knew that coming back in 2023 after having to cancel two in-person festivals in 2021 and 2022 would be difficult financially, and the unknowns surrounding the Covid situation for the approaching winter created even greater uncertainty. We could not know whether the circumstances of the pandemic come winter would allow for a February festival at all. If we were to go ahead with planning a festival for February, it would have to be with the expectation that attendance would be lower than usual, leading to less revenue from ticket sales. Spring Bloom was thus intended to serve multiple purposes – to ensure that a festival was held if our February festival got derailed by Covid, to offer the full range of typical Flurry programming at a time of year when it was safer and possible to gather outdoors, and to help us generate enough income to balance out the anticipated losses from Winter Roots.
Although the Winter Roots festival itself was an outstanding event, attendance at Winter Roots fell significantly below our (already lowered) expectations. The magnitude of our financial loss was such that we do not now have the funds to meet our Spring Bloom obligations for continued planning. We also realized, given the low attendance in winter, that Spring Bloom may not have drawn enough attendees to avoid even greater losses, which would have risked bankrupting our organization. A rainy weekend, or unexpected conflicts, could have made Spring Bloom a financial wipeout and left us in debt. Our festival managers and planning committee were donating their time and services to produce Spring Bloom, and it was unfair to ask for such sacrifices in the face of such overwhelming risk.
In order to continue our beloved Flurry Festival into 2024 and beyond, we need to focus all our efforts and resources on fundraising to make up for the losses of this and recent years. While we are hopeful and heartened by the outpouring of support so far, we cannot make any commitments toward a 2024 festival until we are confident we can meet the financial obligations to our venues and staff, and so time is of the essence!
❄️ Just how bad is it?
We had anticipated lower attendance in February this year, so we reduced our expenses as much as possible and budgeted for about ½ the attendance of a typical pre-pandemic Flurry, or around 1650 ticketholders. This festival attendance would have lost money, but that loss was expected to be recouped by Spring Bloom, which would make a profit through reduced venue expenses and staff overhead (our staff donated their planning time for this second festival) paired with the additional income from expanded ticket sales. Instead of ½ of our typical ticket sales for the February festival, we only sold about ⅓ of the tickets that we usually do. This deficit generated a loss about $60K greater than was expected, leaving us in a position in which we couldn’t pay the upfront costs associated with planning the spring festival.
Between the unexpected $60K loss of ticket income at the February festival and the additional $40K in administrative pay and venue deposits which had been expected to be recouped by Spring Bloom, the Flurry’s losses in 2023 approximate $100,000. This follows several years of canceled festivals during the pandemic during which much of our overhead remained even as our revenue was nominal. We will need to fundraise a substantial portion of that $100K pretty quickly to be able to go forward in planning a 2024 festival.
❄️ If you needed more money to put on Spring Bloom, why didn't you just ask people to buy their tickets now?
The factors that went into the decision to cancel Spring Bloom were a little more complex. Planning a festival of that scale, especially in an entirely new location and different time of year, takes an enormous amount of work and dedication from the Flurry managers and planning committee. That work started back in September and began to ramp up as Winter Roots approached. As we saw the low advance ticket sales for Winter Roots, we became increasingly concerned that the sales numbers we had projected for Spring Bloom, which were closer to those of a regular Flurry, may not have been realistic. Roots & Bloom Combo ticket sales were actually very low, leading us to think that fewer people than we had anticipated were excited for a spring festival.
Outdoor festivals need to be enormously resilient to survive the possibility of bad weather, program conflicts, or the dates simply being bad for a lot of people for a lot of reasons. While many people seemed to be interested in Spring Bloom, we had no way of predicting how many people would actually choose to attend. We had also promised that Spring Bloom would have the full breadth of programming that a normal Flurry does. In order to keep that promise, we needed to allocate a much larger performer budget than we had used for Winter Roots. Had we hedged by cutting costs for Bloom, we would have also lost the types of programming that so many folks were disappointed to see go missing from Roots.
Going into this year, we were optimistic that enough people would be ready to return to dancing one way or another, that between the two festivals we would be able to meet our total budget. This was conceptually only possible in the first place due to the extraordinary generosity of our managers, who volunteered to put on two festivals while being paid for only one, and of our planning committee, who are fully volunteer and were willing to take on double the workload in an already difficult year. As we drew closer to Winter Roots, we saw that interest for both festivals was lower than we had expected, and variables such as covid conditions, personal health, and weather were playing a heavy role in people’s decisions to attend. We were no longer confident Spring Bloom would be able to compensate for the expected losses of Winter Roots, and our planners were already exhausted from the additional work that was going into the February festival during this recovery year.
In a typical Flurry year, we could expect a typical number of people and budgeting was a routine operation. Since the pandemic began, budgeting for Flurry has become an adventure on the high seas. As viral variants attack and recede, public tolerances toward risk, vaccination, and masking wax and wane, and our diverse group of Flurry planners assess and reassess their own comfort with the event, our expectations are a perpetually moving target. The financial consequences of a festival wipeout, however, remain constant. If we didn’t recoup our losses on Spring Bloom, not only would Flurry be lost, but all the other programs run through the DanceFlurry Organization would be bankrupted as well. That’s a lot of dancing that would be wiped off the map, and not a risk we could stand to bear.
To carry on with Spring Bloom planning following the unexpected losses stemming from Winter Roots, we would have needed to raise a large amount of money immediately, at the very same time that we ramped up planning for an enormous festival at a new site and with entirely new variables, while having no idea whether we would ultimately sell enough tickets to avoid bankrupting the organization. All our festival organizers have full, rich lives outside of Flurry, and had just devoted months to nonstop work on Winter Roots after years of start-and-stop recovery during the pandemic. We were, and are, exhausted. As much as we loved the dream of an outdoor, all-inclusive festival that would bring back the full joyfulness of Flurry at a safer time, and are deeply saddened to have to let go of it, the herculean effort and potentially catastrophic risk involved convinced us that Spring Bloom was simply not meant to be.
❄️ How can I help with your fundraising effort?
You can make a direct fee-free contribution to the Flurry Festival through this PayPal Giving link, or by credit card (we do pay fees) on our Donate or Join page. While there, we also invite you to become a member of or renew with the DanceFlurry Organization, which in addition to sponsoring the Flurry provides a variety of year-round music and dance events, community outreach and educational programs, organizer and musician support, and grants.
We also have a GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/save-the-flurry-festival where you can donate or share the link with anyone who wants to lend their support.
We are also able to accept noncash contributions such as in-kind or stock donations. To explore these options, or if planning a donation over $1000, please contact Julia@flurryfestival.org
There are other ways to help! Do you have experience in researching or writing grants? Are there organizations or donors who might be interested in supporting the Flurry to whom you’d like to reach out? Do you want to sponsor a fundraiser on behalf of the Flurry? Our Fundraising Committee will be exploring all these options along the way, but all offers of collateral support for our fundraising efforts are welcomed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
❄️What about people who purchased Roots & Bloom tickets?
Roots and Bloom ticketholders were contacted and provided with three options: They may use the Bloom portion of their ticket as a credit toward the 2024 festival, they may donate the Bloom portion of their ticket to the Flurry, or they may request a refund of the Bloom portion. Please contact email@example.com regarding these options.
❄️ What happens if this fundraising campaign is not successful?
The Flurry Festival in its current incarnation will end. We may explore options for an alternate smaller-scale event, but we are likely to lose our traditional venues if we do not hold a festival there in 2024.
❄️ I’m hopeful! Can I make Hilton reservations for 2024?
The Hilton gives us a date once we have contracted for the festival. If/when we raise sufficient funds to renew our venue contracts, we will publicly announce a reservations date.
❄️ Where can I share my Flurry photos?
We’d love for you to put an album up on the Friends of the Flurry Facebook
page, so everyone can see your pics! You can also pass your photos/videos on to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
along with permission to use them in publicity if you’d like.
❄️ Where can I experience dance and music this summer in the absence of Spring Bloom?
While we can’t provide the weekend dance extravaganza we’d hoped for, there are still plenty of options for dancing in our region this summer:
For a wonderful open-air (but under cover) weekend of traditional music and dance in June, we recommend the Old Songs Festival at the fairgrounds in Altamont, NY, about a half hour from Albany. It takes place June 23-25, and is chock full of participatory traditional music and dance, complete with late-night contra dances, jamming round the clock, and camping on site. You’ll find many Flurry folks dancing, singing, and jamming there that weekend.
The Albany First Friday Swing Dance runs year round, and the Buhrmaster Barn Contra Dance in Colonie will take place on June 11, July 16, July 30 and August 13 from 6-9pm, with a potluck beforehand. Our affiliates Albany Sacred Harp, West African Drumming and Dance, and the Tri-City (International) Folk Dancers run weekly events. You may find the Capital District Megaband performing at local events (and perhaps you’ll want to join them yourself!), and come fall our Albany Contra and Cajun/Zydeco dances, as well as our affiliates the Capital English Country Dancers and North Berkshire Community Dances will start up again. And then of course Adirondack Dance Weekend, late September on beautiful Lake George, will arrive to fill your weekend with contra, English country, and balfolk before you know it!
❄️ How can I stay up to date with new developments?
If you’re not already on our mailing list, sign up here. You can follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Flurryfestival and Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/flurryfestival/
❄️ Where do I go if I have another question?
You can help us Save the Flurry by donating right here:
If you have a PayPal account, you can donate any amount fee-free by clicking this donation button:
Or you can donate by credit card or Venmo (select PayPal Checkout) below:
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Much love, Flurry Friends! ❤️❤️❤️