Appleton Community Music Launches 2023 Mile of Music Campaign with $50,000 Nelson Family Fund Donation
Non-Profit Focuses on Mile 10 Artist & Music Education Support
Appleton, WI (January 24, 2023) – As the Mile of Music Festival readies to commemorate its “mile-stone” 10th festival in August, 2023, Appleton Community Music, Inc., a recently formed non-profit organization, is working to help sustain the nationally-celebrated event and the vibe it brings to Downtown Appleton for not just another decade, but well into the future.
Appleton Community Music, Inc. – or ACM – is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded to provide fundraising support for the four-day summer festival and for other original music experiences throughout the year in Downtown Appleton. Made up of a 12-member board of directors, ACM’s funding focuses on the following areas:
Community participation plays a huge role in making a festival of this caliber possible in Appleton. With the formation of ACM, the community now has a nonprofit way to offer financial support and ensure The Mile of Music Festival’s future. Donations to ACM go directly to paying festival costs directly associated with the 700-plus musicians, music educators and volunteers.
Kicking off Appleton Community Music’s 2023 fundraising effort is a $50,000 gift from the Community Foundation/David L. and Rita E. Nelson Family Fund, which also provided the same catalyst funding to support the artists at last August’s Mile 9. “This gift is a great launch toward our goal of covering the cost of Mile of Music festival artists in 2023,” noted ACM Board President Tom Doney. “While the festival is free to attend, there are many costs to producing this one-of-a-kind music experience. ACM aims to raise just over $400,000 to support artist performance fees, artist lodging and hospitality, and music education experiences.”
Doney, whose company was the very first sponsor commitment back in 2013, said the organization came together in 2021 and took a “soft opening” approach going into Mile 9 in August of 2022. “We wanted to come together as an organization first and foremost, establish our joint venture agreement with the Festival, and then start to explore how we can best help this wonderful treasure in our community,” Doney said. “This past year was a helpful learning year for us and we’d like this important, commemorative year in 2023 to be a year where ACM makes a major difference in sustaining Mile of Music.”
The biggest challenge for the event, as it has grown both in scope and popularity, is creating a budget and production model that can be sustained into the future. The festival has been funded through its first decade, in large part, by four main funding streams: business and individual sponsorships; in-kind support from dozens of organizations; revenue received from the four-day festival itself; and funding of budget shortfalls from its founders at Willems Marketing & Events. The establishment of ACM as a non-profit – and its specific commitment to underwriting the artists who drive the original music and overall good vibes experience with their performances – “provides a critical fifth revenue channel,” according to Dave Willems, who has curated the overall event experience since the festival’s inception.
“We’re so grateful to have this collaboration with ACM that allows for donations, including tax-exempt contributions, to be included as options for backers of The Mile,” Willems added. “ACM’s support, thanks to donations from individuals, businesses and foundations, will make a critical difference in ensuring we can stage this unique festival experience for Appleton and the Fox Cities for a long time.”
Mile of Music was created in early 2013 and presented for the first time in August that year by Willems Marketing & Events, Inc., with support from dozens of sponsors and community organizations who came together to help present the event. The fest was launched as a cultural and creative economy catalyst for the downtown district and the larger Appleton community, capturing the community’s spirit for originality and excitement for experiential events from the get-go. Even in its first year it boasted a large footprint, with more than 50 venues hosting music and other experiences and featuring more than 100 acts performing 220 sets of music. It now averages around 200 acts at each festival who perform more than 700 live music sets.
The festival has gained a national reputation for its overall quality of experience for music fans, its above-and-beyond treatment of the singer-songwriters and bands who play it, and the fact that it is free to attend, making it accessible to all. Rolling Stone magazine lauded Mile of Music and the Appleton community in its September “Cities & Venues” issue for “becoming the blueprint for how to foster emerging talent.” (Check out that article here!)
Doney noted that one community survey done after the inaugural festival indicated many community members felt the Mile of Music phenomenon of that first year would fade and that its free-to-attend model was too good to be true. “And yet, here we are as a community ten years later boasting an event that is known by the worldwide music community and has received international coverage,” he said. “To say we want that to continue is an understatement and ACM can help make that happen by curating donations to support the artists and their care.”
Donations to Appleton Community Music can be made online through the organization’s website or through the mail at Appleton Community Music, Inc., P.O. Box 1674, Appleton, WI 54912.
Inquiries are encouraged through the Contact page at appletoncommunitymusic.org