$10,000 loan settles 2013 Jazz Fest debts — and makes promised charity donation possible

Organizers onstage at the 2013 Jazz Fest announcing the donation to Habitat for Humanity's "Brush with Kindness" program in Prairie Village.
Organizers onstage at the 2013 Jazz Fest announcing the donation to Habitat for Humanity’s “Brush with Kindness” program in Prairie Village.

As the fourth annual Jazz Fest drew to a close Sept. 7, organizers took to the stage with a novelty-sized check made out to Habitat for Humanity for $1,000, telling the crowd it was the first time in the event’s history the Jazz Fest had made enough money to allow for a donation.

Trouble was, when the final accounting was tallied, the festival hadn’t made any money — in fact, it was more than $7,000 in the red.

But with the help of a $10,000 loan approved by the Prairie Village City Council Monday, the Jazz Fest will have enough to settle its debts as well as write a real check to Habitat, which organizers say will be delivered this week.

Lead organizer Jack Shearer attributed the revenue shortfall primarily to underwhelming beer and wine sales the day of the event, when temperatures hovered around 100 degrees.

“If we’d had a cooler day, I think you would have seen quite a bit more come in on that front,” he said.

Additionally, the professional fundraiser the Jazz Fest Committee hired to generate pre-event donations brought in far less than expected. Pelofsky & Associates received $10,584 in fees from the city, and generated approximately $20,000 in donations — giving the festival a net of less than $10,000. Initially revenue projections for the event had Pelofsky generating contributions of $75,000.

What’s more, the last-minute schedule of second headliner Marilyn Maye significantly increase the expense for talent, Shearer said. Performers’ fees this year were $26,670, compared to $18,294 in 2012 when Karin Allyson headlined.

Interestingly, the only year the Jazz Fest has brought in more money than it cost to put on was 2011 — when the event made a net profit of $3,016 despite the fact that the show was terminated after the second act when an intense storm damaged the stage and equipment.

Find a full breakdown of the Jazz Fest’s finances over the years below: