A couple of days ago, we announced that we were actively seeking sponsors for Hutchmoot 2017, and while this isn’t anything new, it took some folks by surprise and sparked a few worries about the evolving nature of Hutchmoot and the Rabbit Room. Let me take a few minutes to explain why we welcome sponsors and why it’s a good thing.
The Rabbit Room is a non-profit organization. One of the reasons we elected to operate as a non-profit is that we are a missional organization guided by our vision for art, music, story, and community. This means that we often say yes to the creation of books or music or events because we believe in their intrinsic value even though we don’t expect them to earn a profit. The Local Show falls into this category. Rabbit Room Press falls into this category. We operate on a razor-thin margin that only makes sense when donors are willing to support the work we do.
What about Hutchmoot? For this four-day conference, we have around 50 speakers and artists and nearly two dozen musicians involved, most of whom are paid for their work, and many of whom are flown in from the far corners of the country and lodged while in town. On top of that, we feed three delicious meals to 400 guests and staff. And there are a legion of behind the scenes details and expenses that most people never imagine. Hutchmoot is a lot of work. And a lot of fun too. And Hutchmoot does pay for itself, and therefore, in a very real way, it’s the means by which things like The Local Show and Rabbit Room Press continue to exist.
Hutchmoot is also our most highly visible and influential event. As stewards of the Rabbit Room and its limited resources, we understand that Hutchmoot is an opportunity to allow folks who believe in what we do to partner with us and our audience in order to maintain the health of the entire organization. Last year we were proud to be sponsored by Belmont University, Johnson University, and Centricity Music. And because of those sponsorships, we had students from those schools coming Hutchmoot, students who otherwise could not have afforded to attend. And Centricity generously gave every single guest a free collection of music because they believe in the community we’ve built and they want to share their community with ours.
Admission for students, gifts of music, continuance of The Local Show and other programs and events—we believe these are all good fruits.
You may recall that when you attend a performance at the symphony or at your local theater, those events include a program filled with dozens, if not hundreds, of ads that help pay for the performance you came to see. We won’t be filling anything with ads. Don’t worry. And there won’t ever be a McDonalds commercial during a session at Hutchmoot.
But we want to invite universities and local businesses and churches and other like-minded organizations and individuals to join the fun, to share their stories, and to get to know you (and vice versa). We’ve got books in the works, and events, and ideas, and programs that we’re anxious bring to fruition, and sponsorship at Hutchmoot is one important way in which we realize those things. The end result is that we get to build a better Rabbit Room for the coming year, and we’re grateful for all the ways in which you, our donors and supporters and, yes, our sponsors, help us make that happen.
Hutchmoot 2017 is going to be a great weekend. We hope to see you there, and stay-tuned—even if you didn’t get tickets, you’ll be able to join in some of the fun in other ways yet to be announced.
Pete Peterson is the author of the Revolutionary War adventure The Fiddler’s Gun and its sequel Fiddler’s Green. Among the many strange things he’s been in life are the following: U.S Marine air traffic controller, television editor, art teacher and boatwright at the Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch, and progenitor of the mysterious Budge-Nuzzard. He lives in Nashville with his wife, Jennifer, where he’s the Executive Director of the Rabbit Room and Managing Editor of Rabbit Room Press.