Cincy Blues Society Announces Fall Fund Drive, Reorganization as Support for Blues Music Dwindles

The longtime local group says it is stepping up efforts to keep events like the Cincy Blues Fest and programs like Blues in the Schools alive for current audiences and future generations in Greater Cincinnati

The mission statement of the Cincy Blues Society says its focus is to "'Keep the Blues Alive' across cultural, economic, generational, social, racial, and geographic lines."

But for several reasons, that mission has become more difficult.

The longtime local organization behind the Cincy Blues Fest — one of the longest-running volunteer-driven Blues events of its kind in the world — and programs like Blues in the Schools says that it has largely been self-sustaining since it was created nearly 30 years ago.

But, in a statement emailed to supporters announcing its Fall Fund Drive, the Blues Society says it has become more difficult to stay afloat in recently years.

"What if you were no longer able to access good information about what blues shows were happening and where?" the email reads. "What if there was no Cincy Blues Fest? What if there was no blues music program for children, so it could be passed on to the next generation?"

"We know this sounds dire, but this is what could possibly happen if there aren't enough funds to support these programs."

The statement says part of the reason things have become more difficult for the group is that "the audience for blues has been shrinking," a sentiment echoed by many other artists and supporters of the Blues (and other styles, like Jazz).

At its height, the Cincy Blues Fest was a major two-day event encompassing Sawyer Point Park on the riverfront and featuring headliners like Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials, Bobby Rush, Blind Boys of Mississippi and Tab Benoit. This year's more streamlined, one-day concert (marking the Fest's 27th anniversary) was at the Schmidlapp Event Lawn in nearby Smale Park with a focus on the local acts that have long been a big part of the festival.

At its fundraising page, the group — which also presents the annual Cincy Blues Challenge and has previously hosted a wintertime Blues fest — admits it's been "going through a rough patch." But, in the fundraising email, the Blues Society says it isn't going down without a fight and has plans to reconfigure the organization and boost its efforts.

"Our plan is to reorganize and improve the management of our board and programs," the email states. "At the same time, we will be working on expanding our audience with proven marketing techniques." 

Supporters are encouraged to visit cincyblues.org to donate and find more info about the organization's efforts. The site says the money raised will be used to "clear up a few debts and to fund several events and programs in 2020."


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