Sept. 15 -- To the Editor:

In a recent Portsmouth Herald article Ben Anderson, director of the Prescott Park Arts Festival, claimed losses this season of $250,000 due to inclement weather resulting in numerous cancelled performances. Anderson says he must pay performers at the time of booking and if a show is cancelled the Festival cannot recoup those losses. Anderson goes on to say the Festival could be ďtoastĒ if there are more seasons like this and that a covered stage would solve these issues.

The most simple business model illustrates that for a business to succeed revenues must exceed expenses. This model must also factor inherent risks, in the case of the Arts Festival inclement weather. At what point does a manager realize the model is not working and that those inherent risks threaten the entire institution. Andersonís pre-payment of large and pricey acts must be questioned given the unpredictable possibility of cancellation.

Anderson, and others, argue the solution to these financial challenges would be a covered stage allowing performances to continue regardless of weather conditions. In addition to the numerous shortcomings of the Prescott Park venue, have the proponents of this solution thought through this idea carefully? For instance, what would be the attendance if a large and expensive show such as Band of Horses went on as scheduled during a rain event, would gate revenues cover costs assuming a reduced attendance? What about the safety concerns of thousands sitting in the rain, or evacuation contingencies during a lightning storm? And what about the stress to the infrastructure as thousands of people trample a rain soaked lawn in the park?

Prescott Park has never had a covered stage yet somehow the Festival survived 40 years of inclement weather and cancelled shows prior to Andersonís tenure. This long standing institution is now threatened by greed, poor management and the blindness of those in charge to see the park is simply the wrong venue for such large and expensive events. Itís time the Festival, while itís still solvent, get back to the simplicity of itís roots. Anderson obviously has the ability to score the big performers. Perhaps itís time though, he utilizes these talents where the venue and the immediate community will be better suited for his ambitions.

Kyle Engle