Keep a long running tradition fresh

Oct 18, 2012


Photo credit: aussiegal (licensed CC BY 2.0)

By: Shawndra Miller

Each spring, the immensely successful Nova Scotia Kiwanis Music Festival attracts thousands of participants of all ages. For 77 years, the festival has provided stage and competition opportunities for budding musicians as young as six.

With a CAD$115,000 budget, 8,000 entrants, and a dozen venues over a three-week time frame, the festival is an enormous undertaking. A hundred volunteers take part, nearly half of them Kiwanians. At the helm is a year-round executive director, along with a board chaired by Dartmouth Kiwanis Club’s Art Hood.

How do they keep this long-running program fresh? Here are their tips:

  • Balance budgetary concerns by making tradeoffs. In the festival’s case, the goal is to keep costs low for young musicians while enticing professional performers to the faculty, so the most affordable venues are sought.
  • Pull experts from the field into the board, and use their networks.
  • Reach out to local corporations and alumni groups to round out the volunteer base.
  • Keep volunteers coming back by making the experience as hassle-free as possible. For example, a policy that “everyone plays” cuts down on the number of disgruntled musicians and parents.
  • Plan a high-quality program that will hook volunteers.


“The only thing that’s always worked for us is to get people to come out and work,” says Hood. “That is the best way to keep the festival going. If you get people to come out, the festival sells itself.”
blog comments powered by Disqus