By Paul T. Choate
March 19, 2013. Due to financial difficulties stemming from numerous issues, the Southern Appalachian Historical Association (SAHA) will be presenting to the Boone Town Council at tonight’s meeting to let them know they need $20,000 in order to open Horn in the West for the 2013 summer season.
According to Katy Cook, SAHA public relations and administration official, two of the major contributing factors to the financial difficulties were rain-outs during last summer’s season and the lack of a $5,000 grant from the N.C. Arts Council that they had received in prior years.
“We had a lot of rain outs last season and we’re still kind of struggling with that,” Cook said. “We had five rain outs, which is a lot.”
Horn in the West had 10,772 visitors last season and Cook said that was a decline from past years.
SAHA had initially planned to formally request the $20,000 from the Town of Boone at tonight’s meeting, but the council requested that SAHA present their need for funds for information only tonight, Cook said.
“I think we’ll get a better idea of what our next steps are based on the meeting tonight and what they recommend to do,” Cook said. “But we will probably be coming to them soon to ask for money to open the show.”
Horn in the West will also be cutting costs by reducing their operating budget and by starting the season later than in past years. The performance used to start in mid-June but has scheduled June 28 as opening night this season. The show will be extended one week past when it usually closes in August, resulting in a six-day cut in the season. Cook said the schedule change was done because “attendance was never especially high other than on opening night until July.”
Even if the Town of Boone does not provide funding to help the annual summer performance, SAHA is looking at other ways to raise funds. Cook said there is currently an online fundraising effort in the works to help raise money for Horn in the West.
As for the potential of Horn in the West, which has been held for 61 consecutive years, not even taking place at all this summer?
“That is not in our plans at all,” Cook said. “We’re determined to make this work. We’ve been here since 1952 and we’re not planning on giving up.”
For more information about SAHA and Horn in the West, visit horninthewest.com.