Over the past 12 months, the Philadelphia Folksong Society has undertaken a remarkable journey with the many volunteers, members, artists, and audiences who make up the Philadelphia folk community. The end result?
Well, we won’t actually know for years (hopefully decades!). By then, the children now enrolled in music classes will be grown, perhaps with children of their own who will also learn the traditions of music, community, and expression that are being passed along today. For the Philadelphia Folksong Society is looking forward, working to preserve the past, promote the present, and secure the future for generations to come.
But we can share what we’ve done so far!
This year, the Society reached several important milestones and major components of the most recent strategic plan, including opening a new home, venue, and Folk School. In order to do this, the Society also on-boarded its first full-time staff, growing its ranks to include several passionate individuals who are dedicated to growing the organization and building the folk community.
And the staff has been busy! The beginning of the year was filled with preparations in the new venue, with the help of many generous volunteers who have moved, stacked, re-moved and re-stacked, advised on equipment, donated instruments and other essential items, and provided so much time and talent to the new space.
The venue officially opened April 20, 2018, with a concert by Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards, and off we were! In the months that followed, PFS continued to roll out new programming and events to activate the new space and welcome in folk fans from all over the Philadelphia region. The Philadelphia Folk School also opened in June, with pilot classes spanning generations and topcis that have already impacted lives of local children and their families.
We’ve accomplished an awful lot so far (as of December 19):
And there’s so much more to do! As we near the end of 2018–a truly remarkable year for the Society–we are so excited to look toward 2019 and beyond to keep bringing you the very best local, regional, and international folk music here to Philadelphia, and to nurture and grow this special musical community. You can expect to see more concerts, like 2018 Philadelphia Folk Fest favorite, the Scottish trad-rock band Skerryvore, on Jan 6; bi-lingual Latin folk sensation and 2015 Austin Musician of the Year, Gina Chavez, on Jan 18; or “Yoda master of all things squeeze box” Rob Curto’s Fish Harmonics EP release (with special guest Mike Block, of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble) on Jan 25–just a few of the upcoming shows in the new venue, which is getting rave reviews from attendees for its great sound and cozy, intimate feel (and the BYO policy is a plus!).
You’ll also see the Philadelphia Folk School continue to grow, with new class sessions for January already on offer at PFS.org. Thanks to a generous matching challenge and the help of over 360 individual donors, PFS was able to secure a $20,000 match for music education programs, demonstrating the need and desire for music education programs in our community, and enabling the Society to invest in teaching artists and equipment for the school. And the learning never stops at PFS: you can also look forward to more networking, showcasing, and skill-building opportunities for the Philadelphia Music Co-op, the professional development program for Philadelphia musicians. And of course, we’re looking forward to the 58th Annual Philadelphia Folk Festival (and hoping for good weather karma!). Performer applications are now open, and you can secure early tickets here.
As we look ahead, it’s important to also look where we came from and acknowledge all of the people who have contributed countless hours, energy, and resources to ensure that we all get to enjoy these concerts and events and the community that surrounds them. Without all of you who have contributed throughout the years, this vision would not be coming to life before our eyes!
And we’ll still need your help to ensure the future of folk for the coming years ahead!
As a non-profit organization dedicated to the community, PFS must keep ticket prices low to ensure they are accessible to as many as possible.
If an individual were to mount a show, the expenses would be astronomical for that one person; that’s why we pool our resources together so that the cost of a show is shared by many ticket holders, and we don’t all hire bands like Skerryvore for private living room concerts whenever we want to hear music! But ticket income covers only a fraction of the cost of producing live music in a venue, which requires artist and production fees, marketing expenses, and of course the oft-maligned yet essential overhead (electricity, copy machine, phone & internet, etc). Sure, we could jack up the ticket prices to cover ALL expenses, but then so many wouldn’t be able to afford $75 per ticket, and fewer attendees means less cost sharing and even higher ticket prices… quite a conundrum!
And while our Members are a loyal and important part of the Society, membership dues in 2017 accounted for just 4.7% of annual revenue.
PFS seeks support from a number of resources to help cover these costs and the costs of our education programs, including grants, sponsors, and generous individuals who want to invest in the folk community and ensure a future for folk music.
You can join their ranks today by making a tax-deductible donation, and rest easy knowing that your hard earned money is being directly reinvested into these programs that you value and benefiting every student who has enjoyed an Odyssey program in their school; every child who has learned in the Folk School; and every ticket buyer and member at PFS events.
Thank you for a banner year for the Philadelphia Folksong Society, and we look forward to filling 2019 with MORE FOLK!