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a u s t
i n c h r o n
i c
l e
. c om
JULY 25, 2014
T H E A U S T I N C H R O N I C L E
29
continued on p.XX
to bring people over, put them up in hotels,
pay them per diems, pay visa expenses for
national and international artists.”
Asked how the festival is funded, Berry
replies, “We piece things together. The city
is our single biggest funder. We get funding
from the state, the federal government, the
NEA [National Endowment for the Arts] –
then we get a lot of project support from
foundations aligning specific projects with
[the foundations’] goals or values. And then
private donors. Like I say, ticket sales have
traditionally been a very small part of our
budget, as have sponsorships.”
With ticket sales constituting only about
12% of revenue, Berry says, “we were confi-
dent that we were going to be able to make
up the financial difference of going free.
And we did; we raised more money than if
we’d sold out every show.”
One way that Fusebox covered the
income from ticket sales was a Kickstarter
campaign that raised $22,644. But Carlin
isn’t sure the organization will go to that
well again to support the “Free Range Art”
initiative. “Now we feel it’s almost like a
public radio pledge drive,” he says. “It’s still
a campaign, it’s still a set amount of time,
we’re saying ‘Look, we gotta raise the
money to do Free Range Art again,’ but it’s
more about, ‘Let’s sustain this thing, let’s
keep this going, let’s make sure we can do
this another year.’”
Which leads to the obvious question: Are
they going to go all free again next year?
“For the next two at least,” says Berry.
“We felt like we needed to try it for two or
three years to really get a sense of what it’s
doing, to really understand it. But we’re
very encouraged after the first year. My
hunch is we’ll keep doing it indefinitely.”
Fusebox has never shown the yearly
mushrooming in scale of an ACL or SXSW.
Carlin acknowledges that, adding, “What I
think isn’t totally apparent, though, [is that]
even though the festival size, the program-
ming size, has been fairly consistent, our
overall budget has doubled in the past five
or six years. That was actually not to expand
the programming or the festival; it was to
invest in the infrastructure and support
staff [for] the festival. Adding professional,
full-time, year-round, dedicated staff,
increasing what we pay to festival crews
and technical crews to help execute the fes-
tival. There’s been a lot of growth.”
And in fact, Berry isn’t interested in
SXSW-style growth for Fusebox. “If any-
thing, I feel like we might [laughs] … we
might condense a little bit – maybe instead
of 60 projects [per festival], there’s 40 proj-
ects or something like that. I don’t know. I
do think there are some other things, like
the thinkEAST project, that to me is con-
nected to Free Range Art. It’s connected to
this desire to be playing a more vital role in
our immediate neighborhood, in our city.
That’s something the arts are really good at.
That’s something I feel we should be doing.
So there’s growth in that sort of space.”
n
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