Full disclosure

 In Opinion

Reader Dave Huskinson has requested that there be a disclaimer posted in each article that The Echo publishes about any hall that “simply states the role that each of you ladies has on the board so readers are aware of your positions as a volunteer, organizer or supporter.”

As the editor, I have no issue with reiterating our involvement with Avening Hall, which has been publicly stated in the past in an effort to be very transparent. We have no direct involvement in any of the other halls, except that we attend events and value the halls as public spaces within the township.

Here’s how it works at Avening Hall: The Echo’s publisher and owner Sara Hershoff is the promoter for the bands that perform at Avening Hall sanctioned events. This arrangement evolved out of a partnership that goes back 22 years when Sara first volunteered at a fundraiser for the OG Friends of the Mad River. She later joined the Avening Hall management board and an agreement was later put in place (and voted on by the board) that she would take on the administrative duties and accept the financial risk of booking bands, while Avening Hall would manage the bar and benefit from the proceeds. This was agreed on as a mutually beneficial partnership, with the benefit weighing heavily toward the hall. Boards and committees have a procedure in place for declaring interest, and this is strictly followed.

Ticket sale revenue covers the high overhead associated with booking bands – especially now that the caliber of entertainer is increasing – and the administrative duties are done by Sara at The Echo office. But as Sara always says, once we are in the hall we are all volunteers.

The concerts fill the hall to capacity, and the hall makes a good profit off the bar. Those profits have contributed to the hall’s coffers, sitting at about $90,000, positioning it to be financially stable and poised to pay for accessibility renovation related enhancements. The hall is completely self sustaining (with the exception of snow removal and water system maintenance, which is provided by Clearview Township). It has an energetic team of volunteers, including myself and other Echo staffers.

Personally, my relationship with Avening Hall precedes my employment at The Creemore Echo, and my husband has been the chair of Avening Hall’s board of management for 10+ years. I have never been a board member but I have been an enthusiastic volunteer and participant.

We met Bonnie (now a board member and booking agent) at Avening Hall and recruited her to The Echo team. We are all helping with the hall’s fundraising campaign.

Later, when our new sales rep Anna foolishly revealed that she had Smart Serve training, she was promptly recruited as a volunteer bartender at Avening Hall, so we’re all in this together.

The concerts evolved out of a sense of philanthropy and has been sustained by a shared interest in live music by many who are thrilled to see Canada-famous bands playing in our hometown.

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