Wednesday, July 25, 2007

MerleFest spokeswoman responds

Discussion board posters who are concerned about management changes at MerleFest "are speculating on topics they are not directly involved with and do not represent the facts," according to Christie Hutchens, public information officer for Wilkes Community College and MerleFest.

Hutchens contacted Festival Preview today to correct several facts and respond to yesterday's item about online discussions on the MerleFest message board. She said the college does not comment about personnel matters and thus would not address concerns about three former staff members who have recently left the organization.

Regarding the influence of Lowe's Companies in festival management, Hutchens wrote, "Lowe’s Companies involvement with the festival is as a sponsor and the company is not involved with planning, programming, and personnel decisions."

She added that Lowe's has supported Wilkes Community College for more than 40 years, and has been a sponsor of MerleFest for eight years. "As a result of that successful partnership and long-standing relationship the company became the presenting sponsor of MerleFest in 2007," Hutchens wrote.

Regarding the current management team, she wrote that festival executive B Townes continues to guide festival planning and leads the programming team. "The entire MerleFest staff remains committed to the MerleFest core values, including a commitment to the music of Doc and Merle Watson, which Doc has always referred to as 'traditional plus,'” Hutchens wrote.

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