Lakes Area Concert Association has suspended the 2014-15 season
The Lakes Area Concert Association — a part of the cultural life of the Brainerd area for 60-plus years — has suspended the upcoming 2014-15 concert series season that would have started this fall.
This does not effect the current 2013-2014 season.
The association board voted to suspend the 2014-15 concert series at its December meeting in 2013 and announced the news this month. The board discussed either dissolving, suspending or continuing the concert series, but in the end decided to suspend it at this time.
Greg Breen, Don Wennberg, Diane Runberg and Betty Alderman, who have been on the board for more than 25 years, said the decision on suspending the concert series was not taken lightly. Members have discussed what to do with the series since 2008, when the association began seeing a negative income, which decreased their reserves.
Runberg said membership tickets sales have decreased and the efforts to increase the sales have not been successful.
Since the 2006-07 concert series, there has been a decrease in membership ticket sales. Currently, in this year’s 2013-14 season, the association seen a 47 percent decrease in sales or a 433-membership ticket loss since 2006. Through the past eight years, the membership ticket sale average price has been between $30.17 to $38.03.
Tickets are sold as membership tickets and give the person access to all concerts in the series for the season, as well as for concerts in Sauk Centre, Alexandria, Wadena and Park Rapids. Cost has been $40 per adult; $10 for student; or $95 for family.
“Ticket prices have been kept low and all funds go to cover concert expenses,” said Runberg.
The association sponsors four to five concerts in the series that feature a variety of entertainment professionals from classical music to dance to popular musical groups.
Concerts in the 2013-14 concert series included the Golden Dragon Acrobats, a world famous company; and the Allan Harris Band with Harris leading a quartet through the Nat “King” Cole songbook. The remaining two concerts, which will still be held at Tornstrom Auditorium in Brainerd are Mack Bailey, a folk musician who will perform at 7:30 p.m. Sunday and the Les Trompettes De Lyon, a French trumpet quintet, scheduled at 7:30 p.m. May 2.
Wennberg said the association didn’t want to dissolve the concert series, as it seemed to be too official. He said the board agreed to suspend it and see if anyone in the community would want to take it over.
This is Alderman’s 49th year involved in the concert association. Alderman said her goal was to always see a full house at Tornstrom for the concerts. Alderman said the association tried to offer discounts for tickets for family to help increase ticket sales, but it didn’t work. She said a majority of the members are older and those sales also decreased. Alderman said it was getting tougher for seniors to come to a concert at night.
Breen said there has been a cultural shift since the concert association started.
“The younger people don’t want to commit to be members of something,” Breen said. “They want to pay for things as they go. We discussed doing individual tickets sales.”
The association has found it necessary to do membership season tickets since they have to book the performers a year in advance and they need to know where they finances are at, members said. The board works with an estimated $25,000 operating budget per year, with each concert costing around $5,000 to $7,000.
Board members said competition also played a role in the membership decrease, as there are more concerts in the lakes area.
The Lakes Area Concert Series has been known for bringing a variety of music to Brainerd. Music such as classic, jazz, ballet, instrumental bands, family bands and big bands, such as Glen Miller, have performed in the series.
“We’ve been lucky to get some of these national bands,” said Breen. “Many have performed here and other smaller venues before they got big and went national.”
HISTORY OF THE CONCERT SERIES
In 1940, a community concert series was initiated. The first concert was the Don Cossack Chorus. During World War II, the organization was dropped for the duration of the war and was re-established in 1948 as the Civic Music Association with Walter Wieland as the first president. The name later changed to Lakes Area Concert Association and the group has provided a varied program of concerts to members.