September 1, 2020
Dear Friends of Blue Lake,
Let me first apologize for the detailed nature of this letter. I’m writing it because I think it’s important for you to have an accurate understanding of our situation.
Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp put Blue Lake Public Radio on the air back in 1982. The classical and jazz programming to which we have all become accustomed would not be on the air today were it not for that bold move and the ongoing financial and logistical support provided by the Blue Lake organization. With that in mind, I am coming to you during our Fall Membership Drive to explain the circumstance in which we find ourselves.
By now, you know that Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp had to cancel its International Exchange and Summer Camp Programs this year because of the pandemic. What you may not know is that the effect on our organizational budget has been devastating. Imagine for a moment that 90% of your family’s annual income disappeared overnight, and it would be many months before it started to come back. I hope that never happens to you, but that is exactly what has happened to Blue Lake. In April, with the cancellation of these two programs, income from camper tuition and related income disappeared. In addition to that, we were obligated to refund over a million dollars in camper tuition payments. We informed our summer faculty and staff that they would not be needed this year. Even after receiving a PPP loan, we had to furlough and lay off some employees and reduce salaries across the board. We modified our employee health plan and cut out all expenses that weren’t absolutely necessary. We are continuing to work with our financial institutions to develop a bridge to the time when income will exceed expenses. With all of that, we are still doing everything we can to hold onto our full-time employees so that we can stay on the air and so that the camp is prepared for next season.
Blue Lake is a complex organization:
- Blue Lake serves more than 6,000 young people every year.
- Campers participate in 65 band, orchestra, jazz, choir, and dance ensembles as well as in art and theater.
- Each year, Blue Lake representatives conduct over 30,000 auditions in schools throughout the Midwest.
- The Blue Lake Summer Arts Festival produces dozens of orchestra, band, and chamber music performances each summer for West Michigan audiences to enjoy free of charge.
- More than 200 students are part of the International Exchange Program, comprising four performing ensembles. Each ensemble embarks on a month-long tour of Europe, staying with host families, and collectively performing in nearly 30 European communities each summer.
- The International Program involves the participation of more than 5,000 volunteers.
- Communities in Europe send ensembles to perform in America on schedules developed by the Blue Lake International team.
- Blue Lake owns two public radio stations, which are on the air 24 hours a day with classical music, jazz, and NPR news.
- The organization employs 31 full-time staff and 750 seasonal employees.
- Blue Lake maintains more than 300 buildings on 1600 acres of land.
I tell you all of this so that you will better understand the situation Blue Lake is in. Right now, the organization is struggling against strong head winds.
Blue Lake has encountered difficult times in the past, and we have gotten through them. You have been there for us. This time is different. It’s more complicated, but Blue Lake is resilient. We’ll get through this too… with your support. Please take a moment today to pledge online here or you may text BlueLakeRadio to 44321.
Your contribution today will help to preserve a cultural and educational treasure. A place where Classical Music and Jazz are on the radio every day. A place where young people come together to learn and to grow. A place where young artists become international ambassadors. A place where generations of students have had experiences which they keep with them for the rest of their lives.
Especially at this time, we are grateful for your kind support and friendship. Thank you.
Vice President, Broadcasting and Development
Blue Lake Public Radio’s annual Shakespeare Series continues this year with the highly-acclaimed Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company's virtual performance to benefit the radio station. It’s a newly-commissioned comedy entitled A Twelfth Night Murder – or Is The Knot Too Tight? Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FICf8pTNkO0. With Pigeon Creek's unprecedented virtual performance, we’re asking for a $25 contribution, or whatever amount you’re comfortable with. Contribution steps are found here: https://donate.bluelake.org/radio. Thank you for financially supporting Blue Lake Public Radio – your “Voice of the Arts!”