Britt Festival finishes successful season despite smoke cancellations

JACKSONVILLE, Ore. – The Britt Festival has officially wrapped up its 2023 season.

“This season was just so much fun,” President and CEO Abby McKee said.  “It was a joyful party kind of vibe pretty much every single night.”

Of the 36 shows scheduled, 32 went on as planned.

Smoke caused unexpected cancellations for the other four, leading to Britt refunding thousands of tickets.

“Smoke cancellations this year were pretty devastating.”

It was McKee’s first full season at the helm of the non-profit.

She says canceling shows at this level is a first for Britt.

“Britt has not canceled shows for smoke before,” she explained. “We’ve had a handful where the artist say ‘I’d like to reschedule and come back in several weeks’ but unfortunately this year, the four artists who were impacted were not able to make that fit with their tour routing.”

McKee says losing the four shows cost the organization around $450 thousand dollars – about ten percent of the total earnings from this year.

“We had about 75 hundred patrons who were impacted by those four cancellations,” McKee said. “I think what people might not realize is unlike something like Live Nation or Ticket Master, we’re not this big factory shop.  We have four people in our box office who have to hand return every single individual ticket in our system.”

McKee says staff are still working on refunding tickets.

She says this experience will help better prepare for future seasons.

“It’s been a journey,” she said.  “I hope that we don’t have many more smoke cancellations moving forward but I think it’s an inevitability that we have to be prepared for. We learned a lot this year and I hope next time it happens we do even better and it’s even more smooth.”

In recent years, Britt has moved up the classical season in the hopes of missing wildfire smoke.

McKee says they’re still discussing their plans for 2024, and are already planning shows with new artists and big name performers.

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Taylar Ansures is a producer and reporter for NBC5 News. Taylar is from Redding, California and went to California State University, Chico. After graduating, she joined KRCR News Channel 7 in Redding as a morning producer. She moved to Southern Oregon in 2022 to be closer to family and became KTVL News 10’s digital producer. Taylar is currently finishing her Master's Degree in Professional Creative Writing through the University of Denver. In her free time, Taylar frequents independent bookstores and explores hiking trails across Southern Oregon and Northern California.
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