APPLETON – As Mile of Music approaches its 10th annual festival, a new nonprofit is looking to help fund both the hundreds of performing artists who come through Appleton, and the festival’s music education programs for kids.
Appleton Community Music Inc. was created to support artists by raising funds for their performance fees, lodging, meals and wellness care that the festival covers, as well as the music-making experiences for young festival-goers.
“We’re reaching out to the community and asking for their help in keeping Mile of Music free to all and providing music education to those looking to expand their involvement in the arts,” Appleton Community Music president Tom Doney said during the nonprofit’s launch event at the Hilton Appleton Paper Valley Hotel Tuesday.
Mile of Music has been hosted annually since 2013, except in 2020 when the festival was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The music festival has stages across a one-mile stretch of College Avenue, from Lawrence University on the east end to Spats and Emmett’s on the west end. Attendance to Mile of Music is free, and features independent artists playing original music.
Last year’s four-day festival spent around $2.6 million to run its 700 live music sets, across over 40 venues that host performances or music education activists.
To help sustain the event, Appleton Community Music is looking to raise $420,000 to support the over 200 performing artists and 40-plus interactive music education experiences for kids.
Doney said the festival’s ability to support artists by paying for lodging and providing medical and dental care on-site is what makes Mile of Music so unique.
“And that’s why when we created this nonprofit, we thought it would be appropriate for us to focus on the artists themselves,” he said.
Karli Reisdorf has performed at Mile of Music with her duo Natural Satellite and said the festival provides her and other independent artists the unique opportunity of performing their original music in front of a wide audience.
Along with helping her grow as a musician, Reisdorf said one of the best aspects of the festival is that it “inspires younger musicians to pick up an instrument and to write a song and to be part of (Mile of Music).”
While sponsors have provided the primary funding for the last nine festivals, Doney said there is a need for a nonprofit people can donate to “that contributes 100% of the donations to Mile of Music.”
And the nonprofit is already on track to meet its 2023 fundraising goal as the David L. and Rita E. Nelson Family Fund donated $100,000 to the campaign.
Mile of Music co-founder and executive producer Dave Willems said the partnership is essential to continue providing and expanding upon the support for its artists.
“We share the same need to ensure that this unique festival and the one-of-a-kind vibe that comes with it are around well into the future,” Willems said.
Sophia Voight can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @sophia_voight.