Accounting for donations |

Accounting for donations

Don Rogers

Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival took the somewhat remarkable step of quantifying its financial impact on the Vail Valley.

Bravo to that, a real attempt to check the effectiveness of the investment in Vail’s summer classical musical festival, which last year included the vaunted New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

As always with such surveys, there’s a certain amount of guesswork at play. The festival organizers pared 400 survey respondents with spending statistics generated for the Vail Valley Chamber and Tourism Bureau by RNC Associates, a Boulder consulting firm, to come up with the assertion that patrons spent $7.4 million in Vail, Beaver Creek and Avon last summer over the course of the 60-event run of the festival.

The New York Philharmonic accounted for $2.8 million of that spending, according to the study.

Depending on how solid the study was – it’s presented as “conservative – municipal donations to the festival in the thousands delivered millions in return.

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In other words, the return was right up there with Hilary Clinton’s forays into cattle futures, or was that pork bellies?

The efforts of Bravo! to check the effectiveness of the investment in the 17-year-old festival provide a good example for other organizations.

Perhaps a component of applying for donations could be a requirement to show with a credible study how good a return for the dollars the community would actually receive.

It could save on tap dances and beauty contests when applying for donations with groups with money to give.

Free the forest

Among the more vexing trends is the federal government running up the deficit AND experimenting with charging the public to visit public land.

We’re all for the Senate bill that would stop the practice cold for all agencies but the National Park Service. Another bill in the House would make pay-to-play a permanent fixture.

The National Fee Demonstration Project began in 1996. It allows the Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to charge fees to visit certain “spectacular” sites.

Up here, that might be the Vail Pass area or Maroon Bells, which has a certain logic. In Southern California, that’s just about any patch of national forest.

In an age in which the public should be encouraged to embrace the outdoors, this is a step in precisely the wrong direction. Better to finally end those ridiculous agriculture subsidies.

Free the forest.

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