During the several years before our cancelled 2020 season we’d been struggling with a two-pronged problem: 1) It became increasingly difficult to find the necessary temporary labor to set up the Tent Concert Hall, leading to stressful uncertainty about whether we’d be ready to open. We tried various solutions, including job fairs, posters, contacting the Employment Development Department, using the California Conservation Corps, enlisting a contractor’s crew; all with limited success. For the 2022 season we knew the pandemic-induced labor shortages would make an already difficult situation impossible. 2) Labor costs, from the base minimum wage on up, have increased.
Creating the Tent Concert Hall requires three types of labor:
- Heavy (moving over 200 sheets of plywood; tent, in 16 bags, each weighing 300 pounds; 850 chairs)
- Skilled (building the stage, floor, light booth, side panels)
- Stage (running the Festival season)
Basically, erecting the Tent Concert Hall and the Concession Tent requires about 20 crew members each day for 15 days. Running the Festival season employs 6-8 people per day. When the season ends 15 people spend a week taking everything down and putting it back in storage.
In the fall of 2021, thanks to a grant from the Community Foundation of Mendocino County (Chatter and Jack Bishoff Special Projects), we hired a consultant—familiar with Festival needs, with a strong background in theater production—to research options for reducing labor needs, and to conduct an inspection of all of our equipment. Possibilities for reducing labor needs include rental or purchase of modular stage and flooring, plus equipment for moving heavy loads. Our inspection revealed that the tent had suffered as a result of prolonged storage. We’ve formed a site committee, which reports to the Board of Directors, to continue the analysis and to draft a strategic plan.
We’re committed to our mission of providing extraordinary music on the “edge of the world.” We continue to work towards a sustainable Mendocino Music Festival, secure in its Tent Concert Hall home on the Mendocino headlands in 2023 and for decades to come. We welcome your suggestions and support.