Despite the soggy experience of 2011, Handwerkplatz and Volksplatz will return to their traditional locations near the banks of the Monocacy Creek in the Colonial Industrial Quarter for Musikfest 2012.
So said Jeff Parks, the president of ArtsQuest, who appeared at on Tuesday night to give City Council an update on progress at the arts and entertainment campus.
“There will be no changes in terms of the sites,” Parks said. “We surveyed the crafters and they begged us not to move them. They said two times in 28 years is not a bad record.”
Last year, ArtsQuest, which runs the annual 10-day festival of music, food and beer, during the fest’s last weekend. It had rained – often heavily – for five out of Musikfest’s first nine days.
On the evening of the ninth and next-to-last day, the Artisans and crafters scrambled to close up shop and get as much of their merchandise out of the way of the rising floodwaters. Several vendors lost merchandise in addition to more than a day’s worth of possible sales.
The flooding also caused shows to be cancelled at Volksplatz, a free music stage that features world music. With that venue closing, in addition to the many days of rain, from souvenir and food and beer ticket sales.
It rained again on the tenth and last day of Musikfest 2011, leaving ArtsQuest not just soaking in creek water, but awash in red ink.
Parks told council that ArtsQuest finished the year $700,000 behind in operating expenses and he acknowledged that the wet Musikfest wasn’t exclusively to blame.
The Musikfest Café, a flexible 500-to-1,000-person indoor concert venue inside the new $26 million ArtsQuest Center, got off to a slow start after its May opening, Parks said. In concerts through October, the venue only sold out 46 percent of its capacity. Since October, ticket sales have climbed to 64 percent of venue capacity, while seven shows have been sellouts, he said.
In January, the ArtsQuest Center had an operating surplus, a positive sign for the organization going forward.
“People are discovering it every single day,” Parks said.