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Project Title:An Appalachian Summer FestivalInstitution Name:Appalachian State University Innovation Category:Economic and Workforce Development Project Director:Denise Ringler, Director of Arts & Cultural ProgramsContact Information:(828) 262.6084, ext. 103, weissbergdr@appstate.eduWebsite:http://appsummer.org
Project Description:Appalachian State University's Office of Arts & Cultural Programs established An Appalachian Summer Festival in 1984. This multi-arts festival is scheduled throughout the month of July, with events staged on and around the university campus in Boone, North Carolina. Featuring a wide array of music, dance and theatre performances, as well as visual arts exhibitions, films, lectures and workshops, the event has a positive influence on the cultural landscape and quality of life of western North Carolina, and contributes to economic development of the region by promoting it as a unique travel destination. The festival is part of a larger Cultural Affairs program at Appalachian that promotes the teaching mission of the university through year-round visual and performing arts programming serving university students, community members, visitors, and K-12 students from across the region.
  • Support the teaching mission of the university by offering a broad array of artistic programs designed to enrich, inspire and broaden exposure to world-class fine arts programming, while serving as a “learning lab” for students with an interest in the arts.
  • Engage and build new audiences for the fine arts through the continued development of comprehensive marketing and outreach plans, affordable ticket pricing, and partnerships with campus and community organizations/businesses, as well as regional/national organizations.
  • Serve as a gateway to the university by exposing visitors to the resources of the university, serving as a development tool for the university, and supporting the strategic goals of the university.
  • Serve as an engine for economic development in the region, with particular emphasis on cultural tourism.
  • Attain financial self-sufficiency through a combination of ticket revenues, annual giving, grants, corporate sponsorships, and growth in the festival’s endowment fund.
  • Establishment of the arts as a key element of the university’s academic experience, and as a resource contributing the region’s quality of life. Festival related programming involves the surrounding community year-round.
  • Engagement with a diverse cross-section of the broader community and the surrounding region in the life of the university. This has led the festival to play an important role in university development efforts and has attracted 17 corporate and 14 media sponsors to keep the festival sustainable.
  • Successfully providing access to “best of the best” arts programming for residents across the region. Ticket prices are typically 30–50% lower than performances featuring the same artists in other venues.  Coupons are distributed to families of all children in grades k-12 who attend public and private schools, enabling them to attend festival events at no charge.
  • Establishment of the arts as a learning lab for students who, as interns and volunteers, perform key functions in marketing, communications, public relations, arts administration, development, artist relations, and technical/production services.  
  • Creation of a repeatable, dependable, economic engine for the area. Attendance studies show the average ticket buyer is a return customer, creating opportunities for repeat business in the surrounding hotels, restaurants and shops.  
  • Comprehensive marketing initiatives have drawn tourists from surrounding metropolitan areas by positioning the festival as part of a larger regional travel destination of cultural and natural attractions.
Challenges/Problems Encountered:
  • Increasing cost of high quality arts programming, which requires the establishment of a strong programming endowment in order to ensure financial sustainability.
  • Easy access to electronic forms of entertainment (movies, music, online visual art) which competes with the live performance experience.
  • Geographic isolation, which makes it difficult to attract touring artists. 
Potential for Replication:The model involved with offering a successful summer arts festival at Appalachian State University is easily replicated, especially for universities with existing year-round arts programming—given the availability of year-round staff with expertise in arts presenting and facilities suitable for the presentation of the performing and visual arts.
Additional Resources:

Hank Foreman, Associate Vice Chancellor
foremanht@appstate.edu (828) 262-7525

CEO-to-CEO Contact:Kenneth Peacock , Chancellorpeacockke@appstate.edu
(828) 262-2040
Date Published: Monday, July 1, 2013