The 26th season of the La Jolla Concerts by the Sea series will open on June 28 with a diverse lineup of musical performers and a serious budget shortfall that has organizers asking for community support.
Made possible by the efforts of the not-for-profit organization that carries the same name as the event, La Jolla Concerts by the Sea are funded in equal measure by corporate sponsorships and the sales of refreshments and raffle tickets. Typically, sponsors contribute $2,400 to cover each performance, but so far, only five of the 11 events scheduled for 2009 have been subsidized.
"We are short, basically $2,400 times six," said Shirleymae Davis, board president.
Citing economic troubles as the reason for the decrease in sponsorships, Davis said the organization is hoping La Jollans will appreciate the past quarter century of free concerts and give generously as they did when the July 4th fireworks were in jeopardy
Meanwhile, Movies by the Sea may have new life. The recreation council on Wednesday night was looking at a plan that would cost only $2,000 to produce the two movies.
The concerts are held from 2 to 4 p.m. each Sunday at Scripps Park at La Jolla Cove throughout the summer, Davis said crowds range anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 people.
Board member Benny Hollman of The Benny Hollman Big Band Explosion, a perennial favorite of the audience, said the seaside concerts have become one of the premier summer festivals in San Diego.
"I believe most of the venues try to emulate what is done here and the caliber of the performers," Hollman said. "We've set the bar a little higher, going professional but as local as possible."
Ron Jones, a professional disc jockey who has emceed the concerts for more than 10 years, said the economy has impacted the series in more than just a fiscal capacity. With more and more people staying close to home and cutting expenses, La Jolla Concerts by the Sea offer an escape from worry and stress.
"It's two hours of stepping away from the reality of life during the week," Jones said. "It gives you an opportunity to come together as a community and share in something that's really, really great."
Buoyed by a confidence in the generosity of La Jolla residents and business owners, organizers are planning a full season of entertainment. Keeping in mind the group's mission to educate and inspire through diversity, the lineup includes the return of favorites Big Time Operator, Rockola and The Benny Hollman Big Band Explosion. The Legends, The Corvettes and Mariachi Real De San Diego have played before and will be joined by newcomers Nitro Express, J.R. Island, Incendio and Delta Blues.
"Each and every one is a crowd pleaser in its own right," Jones said.
Free and open to the public, the concerts are best enjoyed with lawn chairs or a blanket to spread out. Coolers are permitted, and food is available for purchase.
Davis said the organization will continue to solicit sponsors and raise money through its concession and raffle sales, but donations of any amount are welcome. Visit < a href="http://www.ljconcertsbythesea.org"target="_blank">www.ljconcertsbythesea.org