In the wake of the sudden dismissal of Dave Miller, the Executive Director of Burlington’s Sound of Music Festival, a spokes-man for the Board of Directors has acknowledged that there needs to be improved communication and transparency in the organization, but Peter John Van Dyk says the board is committed to change. Miller had been the executive director of the organization for ten years and had been a vol-unteer for a decade before that. “Any time a long time employee and volunteer is let go, there are bound to be hurt feelings,” said Van Dyk, “and we could have done a better job of communicating with our

front line volunteers.” Immediately after Millers departure some of the 50-odd committee chair who make up the core of the organization’s volun – teer base resigned amid a flurry of angry social media postings. But the board called an emergen-cy meeting late last month and over a three hour session some of those who had resigned rejoined the organization.


The Sound of Music festival started 40 years ago, initially as a show-case for marching bands. It was a success from the beginning and grew to its present configuration as a roughly $2.5 Million enterpreise that derives over 80 percent of its funding from sponsorships, concessions and ticketed events. It receives about $400,000 per year in public funds. the core of thheh organization is a group of about 50 volunteers who are called committee chairs. they each take responsibility for an aspect ofthe event and from that core – the volunteer base grows to about 500 who help out when the event is on. what appears to have contributed to the crisis culminating in the termination of Miller was a breakdown in communication between the board and the core volunteers. Van Dyk, who was a volunteer before he joined the board, praised the volunteers. “The majority of the success of the festival is due to the work of those committee chairs,” he said. “They put in incredible hours – their dedication is unreal.” He says the 2019 show is well into the planning stage and performers are being booked. As a provincially chartered non-profit organization the Festival is not required to post its financial statements publicly, nor are its annual meetings required to be open to the general public, but Van Dyk sys the organization is open to change. ” We want to communicate better in the future,” he aid. “The board is looking to being as transparent as we can be. The bottom line is we want to return the festival to the people.”



Providing a Fresh Perspective for Burlington and Hamilton.

7 Comments to: Sound of Music Board says 2019 show is Assured

  1. John

    August 16th, 2018

    You should check your sources no one that has left the festival has returned. There is a huge loss of volunteers that left because the board is acting against the volunteer base and has no will to listen to them. We have tried to negotiate with the board but there has been an illegal hostile takeover in the board. We have tried talking to them they will not hear us they do not care and are working on their own agenda.

  2. Matt

    August 16th, 2018

    This is funny!!! Why are you taking statements from someone who has only been with the festival 6 months, and most volunteers have no idea who he is. The festival is in bad shape, and they are going to ruin this amazing festival. Why don’t you ask Pete, why we can not have a copy of the bi- laws. It after all this is a non-profit with government and city grants, shouldn’t the bi – laws be public. You truly need to ask the right questions, and not fall for the spin!! No body has or will return with this corrupt board in place. Cheers

  3. Cora

    August 17th, 2018

    While there are two sides, in this case many sides to a story, this article is laughable. Unbeknownst to most, over the last three years there has been a jockeying of board seats by those who dislike Mr. Miller to create a position of power to oust him from the festival. They have made no secret of their distain for Mr. Miller or their plan to remove him. Whether warranted or not, the board’s actions have condemned the very festival whose purpose was to unify community through music.

    Whether justified in their dismissal of Mr. Miller, the Board’s errors lay in their lack of succession planning and their underestimation of the seasoned volunteers that make this festival possible every year.

    Like him or hate him, Mr. Miller needs to be credited with the exponential growth of the festival during his tenure. He needs to be credited for his vision and execution that made Sound of Music Festival the multiple award winning festival it is… was. He needs to be credited with forging a relentless work force and family of seasoned volunteers. He deserved more than a one line public dismal issues by email and made public via a press release.

    If the Board has any interest in resolution with the volunteers who make this festival possible, they need to begin apologizing for the manner in which they have handled this train wreck and remember the resilience of persons who are made to feel valued and appreciated. The board has taken down the leader and done nothing to rally the troops.

    The real story here is the decimation of a community by a short sighted few.

    Questions you may want to ask are:

    Why will the Board not share the Bi-laws?

    Why the current president of the festival found it an appropriate practice to regularity receive ‘gifts’ from vendors? Reminder – SOM is a not-for-profit organization.

    Why, under the current board’s rule were individuals on the programming team knowingly allowed to receive kick backs? (This was tabled in the aforementioned volunteer meeting) Reminder – this is a not-for-profit organization.

    How the Board plans to carry out and pull off a 10 day festival that takes a full year of planning and preparation with frighteningly limited person-power. Some may argue this is private. I disagree as the festival is and has been an important revenue generator for Burlington for many years, responsible for bringing visitors, consumers, diners and shoppers into Burlington’s downtown for decades.

    How does the Board plan on executing a 2019 40th anniversary edition of Sound of Music Festival without the seasoned volunteers to run it? THIS WILL BE IMPOSSIBLE UNLESS THEY PAY TO FILL THESE POSITIONS.

    Without the volunteers, the responsibility lay on the remaining two staff and the board. The enormity of the festival and all of its intermingled moving parts makes this an impossible task for the remaining collection of SOMers.

    The arrogance of the executive board members have doomed Sound of Music Festival. What a shame.

  4. Diane

    August 19th, 2018

    I am embarrassed to admit that I have used my hard earned holidays to volunteer at the Sound of Music festival for the past 5 years. I have done more shifts than Pete will ever do! I now realize that this Board has never cared about the “core” volunteers. If they did they would have been open to dialogue at the emergency meeting instead of cutting people off in mid sentence.

  5. John Best

    August 20th, 2018

    Happy to take another look at this topic if there is documentation available.

  6. Roger

    August 23rd, 2018

    Volunteered for SOM multiple times – I am not returning as well – know of many volunteers that I have been in contact with will not be returning

  7. Joe

    January 2nd, 2019

    This is ridiculous ….

    Although the SOM is a non-profit organization it is still never the less an organization that is conducting itself as a business and as such, needs to make business decisions which in their mind(s) are the right ones to sustain the festival.

    1) The firing of Dave Miller : Right or Wrong ? – time will tell…. “Mr. Miller needs to be credited with the exponential growth of the festival during his tenure” however not without it’s share of casualties. Perhaps they would be in a much more positive position today with someone else at the helm for the past 10 years ?

    2) The Current Board : Less years of Festival experience combined than the number of board members (8) . Experience – Lacking?

    3) New Executive Director : Does not appear to have any experience running a music festival ?

    BUT … the general festival going public does not care about all the inner turmoil and accusations of corruption…. they simply want free music!

    The Venue, and sponsors, and bands, and formula, is in all place. THE SHOW WILL GO ON!


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