Alaska Folk Festival greatly appreciates the energy and talents each of our Performers brings to our stage. Without you this great event would not happen. For those of you new to the notion of a free, all volunteer festival, it is important to understand that we cannot and do not pay our Performers.
If you are interested in being a part of this week of music and community celebration, please read on and see what being a Performer involves. We welcome your application. Performer application forms will be available here on our website in late January or early February.
A: You do not need to be a member of the Alaska Folk Festival to perform, watch, jam, anything. The Alaska Folk Festival is free to performers and audience members, alike. BUT, being a member of the Alaska Folk Festival is, in fact, something that you should WANT to do. Here's why:
Many people still erroneously believe that since the Festival is free to come to, it must not cost anything to put on. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The venue rentals and the Guest Artists (fee, travel, room and board) alone cost the Festival more than $20,000 (in 2003), for just those items. The Festival spends another $5,000+ on professional sound engineering, equipment rental, printing, etc. In addition we invest $15,000 or more in merchandise to sell at the Membership Table.
Memberships (of people like you and me) pay for most of the Festival costs, about 75% in fact. The remaining 25% of the Festival's expenses comes from Membership Table Merchandise income, from sales of tee-shirts, posters and such. Some income comes from concerts during the rest of the year. That's it. No grants.
In fact individual memberships supply about 75% of the money that goes to pay for the Festival, folks like you and I. Performers and audience members who love the should WANT to be a member. That's the only way to make sure there will be a next Alaska Folk Festival. $15 signs you up, though more is always helpful. There is a membership form on the web site.
Oh, in case you were wondering, the AFF Board is all volunteer. There is no paid AFF staff.
So, as a summation: the all volunteer AFF board (7 people) work their tails off for free for several months before the Festival organizing it; hundreds of folks (250+) volunteer to do the many tasks needing doing DURING the Festival; hundreds of people (800+ addresses) donate money by becoming members to help pay the expenses; performers (500+) come to play; and, voilá, we have the Alaska Folk Festival.
OK, so it's not that simple, but without the hundreds of volunteers AND the hundreds of members, there would be no Alaska Folk Festival.
So, do you have to be a member to perform? No. But, this said, when it comes time to create the Tentative Schedule, we have had , for the past 15 years, more performers applying than performance spots. Who do we place on Standby and who do we give a performance spot? That is ALWAYS a difficult decision. There have been times when we have to chose between two essentially identical acts for one performance spot, one an AFF member and the other not a member. In these cases, we tend to give first chance to the AFF member, giving them the spot on the schedule. The other act will be placed on Standby where they could STILL get into the schedule if someone cancels (which does not preclude them getting into someone else's act). This does not happen often, but does happen.
A: Being put on Standby is a hard thing to find out. "Why me?" The short answer: Because we always have more application than performance spots in the schedule, everyone does NOT get into the schedule. But, why you, specifically?
When we meet to create the concert and dance schedules, we are looking to create interesting shows for the audience to watch at each concert. We are looking for variety. We are also seeking to get as many different performers on stage over the course of the Festival as we can. We do not want stage hogs who the audience sees time and again. Beyond this, why a particular act goes on standby is based largely on the laws of chance. For example, if we get five different kazoo bands that say they can only perform on Friday night, we are likely to put three or four of them on standby. Out of 15 acts an evening (most evenings) to have 1/3 of the acts all sounding the same is bad programming. We want, and the audience deserves variety; after all they help PAY for the Festival with their memberships. In the case of the kazoo bands, the acts that are removed are taken out of the show by randomly pulling out their application. Another issue with these kazoo bands is that they could only perform on in one concert. This ties our hands because everyone can't perform on the same evening. Out of town acts are frequently in town only on the weekends. Sometimes an act will be in town for the weekend but say they can only perform in the evenings and not the afternoons. If an act really wants to perform, they will not limit themselves and will give us all possible performance options to place them in, including weekend afternoons. Scheduling is a balancing act where the AFF Board does its best to be fair to everyone. We wish everyone could get a performance spot, but that isn't possible.
A: 1) Be as complete as you can when filling out the Performer Application.
Some applications come to us with so little information (no list of performers, no description, etc.) that we wonder if they are actually serious about performing. Often such applications go into the Standby pile pretty early in the scheduling meeting (Which, by the way can take four hours, or more, some years.) We worry that the act is not serious and will cancel. It is much better for everyone if we schedule acts that will NOT cancel. Treat your application to perform seriously. Be realistic. If you know in your heart that you are "iffy," please don't apply.
2) Give us as many performances as possible to place you in.
We ask you when you CAN'T perform. Don't decide you don't WANT to play on this day or that, even if you COULD perform then. If we have the chance of putting you in any of the nine concerts, your chances of getting in the schedule are MUCH better than if you say you can only perform in one particular concert. Out of town performers are frequently only in town for the weekend. In their case, the afternoon concerts are half of the performance chances. Out of town acts who really want to perform on stage should make sure we know they will perform in the afternoon or evening. If you limit the concerts you'll let us schedule you for, you may end up in the standby pile.
3) Only apply for one act.
Since we try to get as many different folks on stage as we can, we do not appreciate performers putting in for two or more acts. If you are in two acts that have essentially the same set of performers, you need to decide which of the acts you really want and only apply for or stay in that one, not both.
A: This web site is one of the best places for more information. There is a lot of useful information to be found, so browse around. There is also a MEMBERSHIP FORM that you can print out and mail in with your check or fill out the web form and use your credit card.
Still have questions? You can leave a message on the Festival's voice mail number 907-463-3316. If you expect us to call you back, make it easy to reach you by giving times when you can be reached. Also leave a detailed specific question so we can leave an answer on your message machine. We are all volunteers and would rather not waste time playing "phone tag."