Online Staff Report
The Rockford Symphony Orchestra (RSO), Rockford Dance Company (RDC), Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center, and Kantorei, the Singing Boys of Rockford, are jointly announcing the Bike for the Arts event will be discontinued.
Event Chairman Steve Gausebeck said: “We think we did a good job of putting on a great bike ride. Riders told us that they loved the well-marked route, the scenery with rolling hills in western Winnebago County, the rest stops with entertainment, and our warm hospitality. In three years, we increased our ridership from fewer than 500 the first year to 750 last year. So, in many ways, BART has been a great success.”
BART was conceived as a fund-raiser for the four local arts organizations that originated the ride, and in that respect, BART was not as successful. The entry fees paid by the riders mostly went to cover expenses for rentals, rest stop food, T-shirts, signs, fees and more. The profit that was made came mostly from sponsors. While their support is greatly appreciated, after splitting those donations four ways, the funds remaining for each organization were very modest.
“Organizing BART took a tremendous amount of work, both from the paid staffs of the four organizations, and the generous time of our many volunteers,” said Julie Thomas, RSO executive director and BART marketing chairman. “As we were preparing for the 2014 ride, it became apparent that in spite of anticipated increased rider participation, the bottom line was going to be even smaller than from previous years. We concluded, reluctantly, that it was time to retire BART. The amount of work both by the organizations themselves and our faithful volunteers couldn’t be justified.”
One of the benefits of BART has been the further development of collaboration and cooperation among the four organizations. This will continue. Watch for BART in the future, not as a bike ride, but as a cooperative arts venture.
Posted May 22, 2014