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.”