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2012 World Choir Games

Posted by Stacey Barnes at Sunday, February 12, 2012 4:46:03 PM EST

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2012 World Choir Games hosted in Cincinnati USA!
Duration: (4:16) User: TravelCincinnatiUSA - Added: 6/15/11

Hosting the World Choir Games may help the region to ever expand
CINCINNATI- The Cincinnati organizing committee for the 2012 World Choir Games, a multicultural choral competition, is preparing to host the Games that are coming to the United States for the first time in their 14 year history. The competition, expected to attract 20,000 participants and 90,000 spectators to Cincinnati from all over the world, is estimated to have an economic impact on the region of about $ 74 million dollars, Nick Vehr, managing director of the organizing committee for the Games said. The decision was made back in 2009, spring 2009, to award the Games to Cincinnati and we have been working ever since then to prepare. Its now getting pretty feverish Vehr said. Vehr, who is also founder and president of Vehr Communications, points to Music Hall, the Aronoff Center and US Bank arena as just a few of the venues in the city that attracted the producer of the Games, INTERKULTUR a German- based company, to Cincinnati and that will be filled with music in about 154 days. Organizers, who are preparing for the eleven day event which runs from July 4 until July 14, plan for on-line ticket sales to begin on March 1. Some of the events will include opening and closing ceremonies, award ceremonies, evening celebration concerts and free community friendship concerts all over the city. Vehr said, people will see on the streets in downtown Cincinnati all kinds of choirs dressed in their native attire, in their performance costumes, and it is just an incredibly cool thing. Last week we had an opportunity to sit down and talk to Vehr about the World Choir Games. Q -How did you first become involved with this event? Vehr-I was the chairman of the board of the Greater Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau back in 2009 when our staff there found out about this event, and, were contacted about this event. It wanted to come to America. We took a good hard look at it and decided, wow, this is not the typical kind of event that a CVB would go after because it is much more involved and complicated. But we decided the fit with Cincinnati; the fit with arts and culture; the heritage of Cincinnati; the fact that at that time we had this maestro of the Cincinnati Pops named Erich Kunzel who

could speak German and talk to the Germans, in German, about Cincinnati and we really thought we could win it. So we went after it and then we won it. I rolled off the Board of Trustees to focus on running my business and the president of the CVB pat me on my shoulder and asked, can you help us with this event? So what Im doing now is overseeing the staff, the day-to-day operations people who are putting all the details in place and helping to raise money. We have a budget of about $10 million dollars for this, weve raised about 8 million got a couple million to go, always the hardest to raise. But well get that done. So thats how I got involved, personally got involved. Q - Where is the money coming from that you raised? Vehr -Its coming from very wealthy people who love the arts, its coming from very wealthy people who put their money into foundations and those foundations support things that are good for the community and its coming from corporations who are becoming sponsors because they see value in associating their brand or their service, their product or their service, associating their brand with the brand of the World Choir Games. So our presenting sponsor is P&G. If you go to the website youll see about a dozen other sponsors and sometime next week were going to announce about another seven or eight more. Q- Is there a lot of community support, have you engaged with local community organizations in anyway? Vehr -Yes. It can be answered a number of ways. We are going to need about 3,000 to 4,000 volunteers to run this event. We already have 12-1500 soft volunteers signed up on line. So we got a lot of volunteers getting ready to sign up. Of the 355 choirs that are already registered from about 53 different countries, about 145 of those are from the U.S. and of those 145, about 60 of them are from within a 50 mile radius. So there are a whole lot of local choirs, high school choirs, church choir that are signed-up , show choirs that are signed- up and ready to compete in the world choir games . So were getting support there. We also have an education committee that is set-up that is working on things to make sure that there is a benefit, its primarily k-12, but that theres some lasting benefit to this event coming here, to basically make sure that kids who are in school have a great experience In being exposed to this event. We have a community engagement committee which is set up to really help us generate volunteers, doing a great job. But Ill also say that another way the community will be involved- each of these choirs that comes agrees to do a free concert. And so to do a full concert we get 3 or4 choirs and bundle them together and they will go and perform for free. And its going to end up being at Mainstrasse, at The Newport on the Levy, probably Devout Park, over at the art museum, up at the zoo, the museum center, some of the really large mega churches will probably end-up, multiple -denominations will probably end-up getting choirs that come and sing and do a free concert. This is another way to engage the community. People who cant afford or are not able to buy a ticket to come to one of the ticketed events, they can still touch this event in a way for free.

Weve got a ton of support from the newspaper and lots of good comments on line, letters to the editor. So were feeling the community is reacting really well to the event so far. Q - So there are no Government monies involved? Vehr- The City of Cincinnati gave us a grant for $100,000 back in 2009. Kinda wish they wouldnt have, wish we wouldnt have accepted it. All of our friends at city hall now feel like theyre event managers and because they gave us $100,000 three years ago that they...We have somebody on our staff showing up at committee meetings every other week just to answer questions. Now, having said that the City of Cincinnati has been a great partner. Were gonna have all these people for the most part, not solely, but for the most part, they are going to be in the streets of downtown Cincinnati during those 11 days., And so the city has accelerated a lot of the infrastructure work, basically to spruce everything up to make it look good. Safety services have been working very, very closely with us. Sanitation, you know, lots of people means lots of garbage. And so Sanitation is going to be working very closely with us to make sure the downtown streets are clean and all that kind of stuff. The city actually has been a really, really good partner, the city council members have been honestly many times a royal pain in the butt. But thats life. Q-What about the citizens of Cincinnati do they seem at all bothered by the fact that these guys chose to give that much money to the World Choir Games? Vehr -So, everything is relative. To some people $100,000 is a whole lot of money. In the context of the city budget and what the city does, its really not that much than it was 3 years ago, that money was spent 3 years ago. It really supported the team that went to China to look at the 2010 Games. Oh no, theres been no criticisms at all that weve received. Now there will be criticisms, we do live in a free society, a democracy and people of course will have opinions and theres no doubt therell be criticisms about something, there always is. This event is pretty clean so far. We havent got a whole lot of that noise coming our way. Q -Was it determined that the 2012 Games were going to be here before or after they gave the money? Vehr - No afterwards. The money was given afterwards. It wasnt a part of us being selected. Q- You listed a whole lot of positives with Choir Games coming here, have you come across any negative aspects to this many people coming to a city that hasnt really seen that before? Vehr- Uh, no. Not to cut you off but, I think theres way more upside than downside. Yeah there will be more people in the streets of downtown Cincinnati over on Newport on the Levy, or over at Mainstrasse. Yeah there will be some people who say, now I cant do the same thing that Ive done every day of my life for the next 11 days, I may have to change and is that a negative? Yeah. To the community is there a value in that? Absolutely. You gotta move forward or die. As a community we gotta move forward and this is a great opportunity in lots of different ways to move forward. To show the global nature of Cincinnati

which is very significant, though people may not be aware of it, but very significant with the corporations that are here and all these different non-profit organizations. To show Cincinnati is a great place to visit, a great place to do business. The College Conservatory of Music up at the University of Cincinnati is one of the top five conservatories of music in the world. Most people do not know that. Its just an incredible asset. A lot of these people coming from other countries, they could be future students. They could be future faculty members at CCM. In some ways its generating business. I am criticized sometimes as never seeing the glass as half empty only seeing it as half full. So I may be the wrong guy to ask- what are the negatives. Q-What type of media outlets are you utilizing? Vehr We will use every outlet that is available to us. So lets start with we have a formal kind of sponsor partner relationships with WCPO EW Scripps company, so they will be our official television network, channel 9 network here locally. Enquirer Media has signed on as a sponsor. Cumulus Radio, which has 5 different radio stations here that hits five different demographic groups. Radio One will end-up in a partnership agreement. Lamar advertising which is the outdoor advertising company. Social Media is a critical and important part of what were doing. This is a very visual event. You have to kind of see it. The pictures really tell the story and the Videos tell the story. In terms of media we will do paid media. We will buy advertising time and space. Most of the partnerships with those media companies I mentioned mean that then they will give us additional free space with whatever we purchase. Q- I saw where over the summer there was a report that 30 percent more interest in the games here than usual, is that still happening? Vehr- Registrations were coming fast and hard, more rapidly than INTERKULTER had ever experienced before. We are keeping pace with that. People want to come to America. Now were also fighting something. The challenges that come especially in the eastern bloc of Europe are facing right now. And third world nations, poorer countries . So think Cambodia, Laos ,Vietnam some of those countries in Southern Asia. Were not sure the choir from Iran will get their Visas to come into the United States. There are countries the United States has relationships with and they are called visa-waiver countries who are basically countries where somebody, in order to travel to the United States, doesnt have to get a visa to come. The more interesting ones are what they call non-visawaiver countries. So start thinking about two things, terrorism or people immigrating to the United States illegally. So you got a consulate officer whose only job in life is to sit in that embassy and either give visas to people waiting to enter in the United States or say no. There is not a United States embassy in Iran. We do not have diplomatic relations with Iran as a country. They are going to have to fly to Germany or United Arab emirate to apply for visas and go back home to wait to hear whether or not they get their visas. Then they will

have to fly back to get their visas, then fly to United States. Think about how much all that costs. Q-Following the probable success of the World Choir Games, do you believe its going to open up more opportunities for Cincinnati, if so, do you have your eye on it already? Vehr -If it doesnt we will not have done our jobs well. Theres this metaphor, someone shared with me once, I really like-In order to do the World Choir Games, we have to really stretch the rubber band-the capacity for us as a community to do this and shame on us if the rubber band ever stretches back to its original size. We have to ever expand.