Faced with budget cuts, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation announced on Thursday that it will suspend its biennial poetry festival. The festival, founded in 1986, last took place in September at Waterloo Village in New Jersey.
The foundation has been hit hard by the rising costs of putting on the four-day event, which takes place on a large, pastoral swath of land housing a number of tented sound stages. With production costs doubling over the last three festivals, and nearly 20 percent of the festival funds going to hire poets to give readings and lectures at the event, the foundation will look for ways to "reinvent" the festival, attended in 2008 by nineteen thousand people, on "a more affordable scale or in a more affordable venue."
According to an e-mail from Dodge Foundation president David Grant, although the New Jersey-based organization, which supports programs in the arts, education, and the environment, has been trimming its grant budget annually since 2002, the funds for poetry have never before been reduced. The current cuts will affect not only the festival, but also other poetry programming, which includes workshops for New Jersey teachers of poetry, poet visits to the state's schools, mini-festivals, and a high school poetry contest.
Grant said in his message that the foundation would make audio and video from the past eleven festivals available on YouTube. Over twenty-five hundred hours of recordings are housed in the festival archives.
"The festival experience itself cannot be duplicated, but we take heart that it can and will be shared by students, teachers, poets, and poetry lovers the world over," Grant said. "It is a remarkable legacy—not yet ended."