Following the cancellation of the Symphony in the Flint Hills Signature Event over the weekend, several questions swirled regarding the organization's "no refunds" policy.
Mike Stout, Symphony in the Flint Hills Board Member and 2019 event landowner, and Executive Director Christy Davis issued a statement Wednesday morning regarding the decision to cancel and what they will do for 2019 ticket holders.
It reads as follows:
"In the early morning hours of June 15th, we sustained severe damage to Irma's Pasture in Bazaar, Kansas, the site of our Signature Event. The severe weather event was later identified by the National Weather Service as a microburst, a column of air that can produce winds up to 100 miles per hour. The microburst flattened four major event tents, including ticketing, patron/sponsor, food, and art/retail. Three of these were large semi-permanent structures with wind ratings of 65 miles per hour, two of which had the capacity to hold more than 1000 people each.
"The event was postponed Saturday morning and our audience was notified. As Saturday wore on, however, the extent of the damage came into focus. The tents - including two of them that measured approximately 100' X 200' - had not just blown over. They had been ripped to shreds. It was the worst the tent company had seen in twenty years - and another major storm was on the horizon. Once we understood that a Sunday event was not possible without jeopardizing guest safety and incurring damage to the prairie, we were forced to make the heartbreaking decision to cancel. During the night of June 16th, another storm produced enough rain on the already saturated ground of the site that event parking in a pasture would have been prohibited.
"The decision to cancel was not taken lightly. It was particularly heartbreaking because of all the special programming we had planned for our Ad Astra theme and as a culmination of a three-year-long arts initiative called Jump!Star. This included education programming that was years in the making, the premier of music composed by Jherek Bischoff, a first-ever prairie performance of the Osage Ballet, and other artistic surprises. This is considered a "bucket list" event for many and the impact of cancelling this has been upsetting for everyone, including our ticketholders, sponsors, vendors, site crews, staff, board, and 600+ volunteers who work year-round to make it happen.
"Symphony in the Flint Hills has always had a "no refunds/no exchanges" policy for event tickets that is clearly stated on our website and online ticketing platform. The organization will not refund tickets based on that policy as the all revenue generated by ticket sales is used to pay for a portion of the costs associated with the event. Regarding charitable contribution information for the cancelled tickets, we ask that you contact your personal tax accountant/advisor.
"The majority of items at the event site is insured by the individual vendors involved with the event. The organization has liability insurance that covers the safety of the audience and our own personal property losses on-site. We are still assessing the damage to know the total financial impact of this loss.
"Many have asked if the 2019 event could be rescheduled for another date. Unfortunately, this isn't logistically or financially feasible. There are too many already-booked schedules to coordinate with our vendors and the revenue has already been spent.
"What Symphony in the Flint Hills will do:
"We will offer first exclusive access for 2019 ticket holders to purchase tickets for the 2020 Signature Event on June 13, 2020. Ticket sales will start July 1, 2019.
"We will offer Flint Hills experiences throughout the year to honor the 2019 ticket holders.
"We are a year-round organization, and our mission is to heighten appreciation and knowledge of the Flint Hills tallgrass prairie. We do this by offering programs in addition to our Signature Event such as WoodFest, our family Fall event on Saturday, September 28th, and interactive art exhibits in our gallery.
"We invite all of you to join us at these events to enjoy the experiences we provide in the Flint Hills."
A Gazette reporter was at the press conference Wednesday morning in Cottonwood Falls and we will have more in Thursday's print edition of The Emporia Gazette