Save Pop Asheville in 30 days!

Save POPA in 30 Days – Not an event per se… it’s a campaign… Please read:
Host: Pop Asheville
Wed Jun 17 at 10:00 am until Wed Jul 15 at 10:00 pm

Venue: Your phone, your computer, your voicebox, Pounding the pavement, turning over stones
Contact email:

Hi POPAsheville Lovers & Supporters,

Hope you’re all well, and the spring/summer weather and your corner of the economy has been kind to you.

Remember how great POPA 2009 was? If not (or if so), watch the sweet 10-min. video, created by Studio South and funded by Advantage West:

Aahhhh… good times.

June is the month I usually begin to gear up for POPA band submissions…. but this year things have changed, so I’m writing to give you an update because I know you care (you sweet thing, you) and to see if you are interested in helping me take on a little challenge. I like to call it “Save POPA in 30 Days”.

What has changed?

After much consideration, I have decided not to be the Director of POPA for the foreseeable future. This is a bittersweet decision for me, mostly based on the desire for more time with stephaniesid (my band) and my garden and life in general (you mover/shakers know… it’s no joke running a big brewhaha!). In any case, it’s the right choice.

The good news: I have chosen a competent and creative successor who has agreed to become Director in the event that POPA continues. You may know her: Susanne Hackett, who has been involved with POPAsheville since it was called “IdFest”, has the experience of working within and across multiple Asheville organizations and is the founder and owner of Pollinate Consulting, whose mission is aligned beautifully with POPAsheville’s. Susanne and Pollinate are prepared to take on POPAsheville with my transitional assistance… again, in the event that POPA continues.

What is keeping POPA from POPping happily into another year?

The bottom line: POPAsheville needs $15,000 in grant or sponsorship in order to continue, and if the festival is to happen again, the funding (or an initial installment) must be in place by July 15. It’s a tall order, but if this boost is obtained now, it’s likely that POPA will be well on the road to sustainability.

A bit of background: I started POPA as a tiny event to help build up the indie pop/rock scene for my band, stephaniesid. I own POPA as a sole proprietorship but have been working on a volunteer basis. Brick by brick, we’ve been working toward a sustainable festival that will compensate a Director as well as provide small stipends for staff. And POPA has been doing great! … covering overhead expenses, paying for itself, and making large, tangible steps toward achieving its mission for the modern music community … but it still isn’t yet able to afford to pay a Director, or provide any compensation for the staff who put it all together.

A paid Director would be able to prioritize POPA in a way I have never been able, by focusing all efforts on POPA from July thru February. Susanne is a great organizer whom I am confident will be able to mobilize sustainable sponsorship and other support for the future of POPA, if we can provide her now with the the means to roll up her sleeves and get to work. How exactly would/will the funding be used?

$12000 – Director position (cover the 600+ hours of required festival work)$3000 – Small staff stipends (stage managers, volunteer director, etc).(All other festival expenses, including pay for bands, venue and LaZoom bus rental, printing, etc. are covered by ticket sales, in-kind sponsors, and smaller-scale sales like t-shirts)

Note: the funding does not need to be in hand by July 15, but we need the first installment, and a guarantee re: when the balance will arrive. I envision only one or two sources; we simply do not have the ability at this point to cobble together a sponsorship drive (that will come in the fall, if the festival happens).

What money sources have you already tried, Steph?

–Cutting costs: We’re already down to the bone on this one…

–Sponsorships: I am not a great financial sponsorship-raiser, have not been able to devote the necessary time to it, and the economy is in a tough place, so support from businesses was amazing in 2009, but was almost entirely in-kind as opposed to actual dollars (though very appreciated, don’t you forget). We anticipate that a paid Director with the time to devote to this (and stronger skills in that area) would have better results than I have had, and be able to secure funding for the Director position in the future.

–Raising the admission price significantly: I am very wary of doing so; my instincts and a good amount of local research advises against it.

–I have had ongoing discussions with AdvantageWest ( – Western NC’s economic development commission), who are very supportive of POPA but who have not promised funding. I’m still waiting for their response to my most focused and recent effort. If they commit to the funding by July 15, we’ll be in good shape. But their ability to fund is unclear, so I’m casting a wider net here, in hopes that you might use your creative minds (and/or pocketbooks?) to help with the campaign.

What can I do before July 15 if I want to help POPA continue?

1) Know where to find some money for a great festival? Ask that business or person to be our funder! Maybe that person is… YOU? (Note that, although all offers for support are highly appreciated, we’re looking for one or two large gifts and/or sponsorships at the moment. Smaller offers, I assure you, will be lusted after and relished in the fall).

2) Please forward this email, call, spread the word.

3) There is no better testimony to the vitality of POPAsheville than the video created at this year’s event, funded by the Creative Commerce Coalition of Advantage West! Play the POPA video for people:

4) Please feel free to discuss any creative ideas with me. Please do not address these issues with Susanne, as she is not yet engaged as Director, and she has other fish to fry at the moment.

5) If you find a potential funder, please put them in touch with me ASAP. I will be friendly to them and see how we can make the relationship mutually beneficial.

To clarify… In a nutshell, there are two possible scenarios for the future of POPA (I have made peace with either one):

1) the festival will not take place this year (Jan. 2010), and we’ll bask in our fond memories, knowing that POPA has brightened Asheville’s beacon on the national touring map for indie pop/rock musicians thru sheer awesomeness and countless after-fest gig-swaps, great partnerships, great press, etc. etc. … Susanne will go on Pollinating Asheville with her great new consulting business, and I’ll think about maybe putting on the fest in a future year.


2) the fest will receive $15000 (or an ironclad plan for that amount to be delivered) by July 15, 2009, and again fly its banners this January, with Susanne as a paid Director.

Is it the end of the world if POPA doesn’t continue, or continue this year?

No. But it is apparent (especially from the flood of emails I have received lately) that there is tremendous desire for POPA to continue, that the ball is rolling wonderfully, that POPA embodies the very nature of the Asheville spirit, and that it is vital as a triumphant beacon for Western North Carolina and its thriving arts scene, so I would like to find a way for it to POP again this January. I realize, however, that “Save POPA in 30 Days” is a big challenge. I know that POPA may not continue, and I’m OK with that. I know a lot of you feel strongly about it continuing, and that’s why I’m writing.

I’ve enjoyed working with all of you during the past several years, and feel blessed with the growth of POPAsheville. I’m confident that things will work out the way they’re supposed to, and I trust that you know yourselves and whether or not “Save POPA in 30 Days” has resonance for you… if it does, I’m all ears….

Best to you, and thanks for your time.

Sincerely, Stephanie Morgan

(Thank you Gordon Smith for this information!)

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