Hocking College’s Black Diamond Music Festival returns after big expenses last year

Hocking College funded last year’s inaugural Black Diamond Music Festival through $224,885 in “college support,” records obtained by the Independent show. The college is set to hold the second BDMF this weekend, June 9–10.

NELSONVILLE, Ohio — Hocking College funded last year’s inaugural Black Diamond Music & Arts Festival through $224,885 in “college support,” records obtained by the Independent show. The college is set to hold the second BDMF this weekend, June 9–10.

A revenue and expense document provided by the college shows that 2022 BDMF cost the college $319,593. The total revenue line shows the college breaking even — but $224,885 of revenue is listed as “college support.”

The college had $40.6 million in operating expenses during the last fiscal year, according to its audited financials. That makes $224,885 approximately 0.55% of overall operating expenses. 


After “college support,” the next largest revenue source for the inaugural festival was ticket sales, at $40,835. Weekend festival passes for the 2022 festival cost $145. Other major revenue sources included $17,190 from alcohol sales and $14,000 from sponsorships.

Asked about the college support line item, Hocking College President Betty Young said in an email, “This specific festival is still new (in its second year) and there is a great opportunity to grow the festival, continue to engage students and the community, and ultimately provide a revenue stream to support student learning, programs, and success at Hocking.”

Young also pointed to benefits she said the festival provides the region. “Colleges and Universities do not exist in a vacuum, they are partners with their communities,” she said.

Last year’s festival drew heated criticism, after it was scheduled for the same weekend on which the college historically hosted the Nelsonville Music Festival, a fundraiser for Stuart’s Opera House, a nonprofit arts organization. That year, NMF relocated and was held in September at a different venue.

Young said the festival promotes the college to visitors and provides a learning opportunity for students.

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“Students from culinary, hospitality, music, skilled trades, business, and others participate in the festival development and implementation. This gives our students ‘live learning’ experiences in their intended career field,” Young said.

Young said festival revenue and expenses this year will be about the same as they were last year. She did not directly respond to questions posed by the Independent multiple times about the $224,885 “college support” line item.

A records request is still pending with the college regarding further documentation of BDMF 2022 expenditures.

Hocking College Dean of Workforce Development Adam Fowler said in an interview that there aren’t many changes to this year’s festival from the first. But some changes include the festival’s layout, which will see an expanded vendor area, and sourcing more local talent and equipment contractors.

The lineup also leans into a more traditional country genre, as opposed to folk and bluegrass. There are no repeat artists this year, Fowler said. Headliners include Josh Turner on Friday and Ashely McBryde on Saturday.

Like last year, students are heavily involved in the festival’s production — from running first aid tents to cooking up food.

“The opportunity for them to work an event like this is good,” Fowler said, adding that the film and video program will also be doing concert video and photography. “Our business and marketing program… [helped] us get promos together, advertising stuff together, graphics, mailers, emails that went out to [past] attendees.”

Some students are receiving internship credit while others are volunteers, Fowler said. The hope is that students go on to find local jobs following their experience in BDMF production, he expressed.

“All of our programs are very hands-on, as a technical college,” Fowler said. “From the opportunity standpoint for these students to get to work on [something] like this… it’s great.”

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